Absent Again

So I had my appointment with the potential counsellor. It was a 2-hour “assessment” of sorts to see if you require counselling and if you do, the priority of your need.

Basically, it was two hours of telling her about the last year that sent me into this depression which then quickly changed into now give a rundown of all of the shitty things that have happened to you prior to this last year. Do you have a family history of mental illness … oh Lordy, here we go …

“Do you have suicidal thoughts?” “Do you have a plan to kill yourself?” “Do you have homicidal thoughts?” (I was trying desperately to stop thinking in sarcastic answers as this would only get me locked up. I REALLY just wanted to reply, “These stupid questions are making me feel like I wanna punch a bitch in the head, does that qualify?”)

Fast forward to near the end of the appointment and it goes something like this: so now we’ve established your need for counselling, now tell me what I can do to help. What can I do to help you?

Are you fucking kidding me?

Seriously.

If I KNEW how I could be helped I would be doing it already and not sitting in this damn office trying to answer stupid questions that I can not possibly answer. I absolutely loathe the fact that I have hit a wall and I have no choice but to turn to others to help me. No matter how I try, I can’t dig myself out this time.

This is exactly WHY I left outpatient counselling back when I was a teen. If I knew how I could be helped, I wouldn’t need help … what absolute fuckery is that? How can stressing me out more by making me upset that I can’t tell you how to help me going to assist in my recovery. Wouldn’t one already assume that I don’t know HOW to help myself at this point since I’m on anti-depressants and seeing a psychiatrist and my doctor regularly and he’s the one who referred me …

I’ll tell you how.

It won’t! 

My appointment was on Thursday of last week. Friday was the worst day that I have had in the last year. I was honestly prepared to phone my doctor and cave, telling him it’s time for me to be admitted. I have been in a really dark place since my meeting with her and I have to go back next week and let her know “how I’d like to be helped”. UGGGHHHH! I really don’t want to go but I have to hear her out and see what suggestions she makes.

Group therapy was also suggested, Sure, the person who can’t leave their damn house and despises people should go to group therapy. Yep, that’d be just peachy for the others there for sure. When I get really uncomfortable and feel trapped I have one of two reactions: One: I panic. I can’t breathe, my heart races, I get dizzy, and I just want to run away and cry. Two: I turn into the royal bitchy-bitch of asshole island. It’s really luck of the draw as to which one you’ll get, depending on how much stress I have had the week prior. The psychiatrist (lucky him) got the bitchy bitch last meeting we had. I had been to my doctors that week and my former friend kind of dragged me out for the day. While out, I freaked out and had to run out of the store in the middle of standing in the checkout line ’cause I just started to panic – dude behind me was breathing loudly, the old ladies in front were gabbing away, kids were running thru the store and I just couldn’t take it. By the time I forced myself to go to my appointment with the psychiatrist, I had absolutely nothing left to give so automatically shut down and went into protective “screw the world” mode. Funny thing is … this counsellor met me on that day and I was a real bitch to her too. She actually made a comment that it was obvious that I don’t like people. *shakes head* WHY WOULD I WANT GROUP THERAPY?!?!?! 

I swear, I hope these anti-depressants work better. I’ve only been off of the others for 2 days so still have to wait and see. I have to see Mr. HeadDoc in the morning. I can only imagine what the guy thinks of me now. The first appointment I was frustrated and upset, the second appointment I couldn’t stop crying, the third I was a complete bitch, let’s see what the fourth brings.

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Appointments

Appointments

Yesterday I had my monthly appointment with the physician. I have seen more doctors/specialists/head docs etc. in the last year than I had in all of my years prior but that’s not really relevant.

As usual, the doctor asked how I was doing and while I typically respond with, “I’m just living the dream” this time I couldn’t even answer with anything but, “Well, I’m still here …”.

I actually feel bad for my doctor. I’m pretty sure he’s younger than I am and he appears to care about his patients. He agreed to take me on, despite being full and not accepting new clients.  Every time I go in there, I’m a miserable piece of crap and half the time I can’t even speak (I actually wrote him a letter in order to communicate with him!)

I know that he’s worried about me and doesn’t want me to be one of the patients that he loses. Each month we do this little dance where he asks if I am suicidal and I answer him honestly. Then he asks if I have a plan followed by my telling him that I have many but as I have already stated many times; I wouldn’t do that to my son. As long as my son lives with me I will not follow thru on my thoughts. Seriously though, does he really believe that I would answer that question honestly, regardless of whether I have plans or not? I already KNOW that the minute he even remotely considers me to be at risk he will have me committed.

Now usually I wouldn’t be against being hospitalized if it’s absolutely necessary. The thing is, the local hospital does not have a mental health unit. I would be forced to be in a hospital that is a 40-minute drive from here. I would not be able to see my son at all as he does not drive and we don’t have anyone that could drive him to see me. Yes, he is 18 but he’s not quite in a position to be home alone for an extended period of time. Hell, the kid can’t even remember to take the garbage out on garbage night if I fall asleep and am not awake to remind him.

I have my counselling appointment on Thursday and while I’m really not looking forward to it, that information pleased the doc but he was very cautious in making sure that he told me it wouldn’t be a one-session type deal.

We decided that the Duloxetine definitely wasn’t working and that I had certainly given it enough time to (it’s been several months, even with the increases in doses) so he has me ‘weaning off’ of the Duloxetine and starting up on Venlafaxine, he hopes that will help with the anxiety as well and we have more room for dosage increases. I will continue to take the Amitriptyline at night. The top of my dresser looks like a bloody pharmacy right now.

I’m still free to walk the streets for the time being (or hibernate in my home as the case may be – I only leave home for appointments). Hopefully, it remains that way.

 

 

When Your Meds Don’t Work

Well, I gave these prescriptions the good old college try.

They aren’t helping. 

The only thing that has managed to change is the fact that I’m no longer crying at the drop of a hat. That is not necessarily because of the anti-depressants. I’m finding myself reverting to old ‘coping mechanisms’. I just shut down and if I’m forced to speak or do anything that forces me to be uncomfortable, I’m blunt, short, and come across as being quite angry and standoffish. Other than that, I am completely miserable and can barely force myself to post on this blog. I really had planned on posting more frequently then I have been but hey, add that to the list of things I am not doing well at lately.

I am thankful that I have a doctors appointment Monday afternoon as we’re going to have to try something else or increase the dosage of the current antidepressants that I am on. I just don’t have the money to spend on meds that aren’t helping. My savings are almost gone now and I certainly can’t go to work the way I am. I can only imagine how poorly the interviews will go and since I’m in a small town, if I alienate folks I’m screwed.  Hell, I couldn’t even force myself to go and get my blood work done over the last month. I’m sure I’ll hear about it on Monday but I honestly don’t give a damn at this point.

I have my first appointment with the ‘counsellor’ this week as well. I’ve briefly met her at my last appointment with the psychiatrist and I’m really not looking forward to spending 2 hours in a little room with this woman. <sarcasm>It should be awesome</sarcasm> … they have assigned me a female counsellor and out of all people that I hate, I hate females the most! (No offence intended to those females reading this blog, I don’t much like males either but my dislike for females is much stronger).

So in other news; I mentioned a while back that I deleted my Facebook account. Guess how many people have noticed? I’ll tell ya … 0. Or if they have noticed, they don’t give a damn. It’s amazing how quickly folks disappear out of your life the minute you don’t have the energy to be their sounding board and support system and actually need someone to be supportive of you.

The one female who I trusted and whom I had considered my best friend (we have known each other since high school) has not spoken to me in almost a month. Not a brief text message asking if I’m okay, not a phone call, not a damn thing. A part of me is hurt and upset, the other part of me is angry with myself. I fucking know better than to expect anyone to be there for me.

I love reading all of the Depression help posts across the internet and the suicide prevention sites that all say, “Call a friend”, “Have a family member …”, “You need a support system” … Yeah, superb. What about those people who are actually alone? What is the advice to them?

 

How Do You Explain To Your Children?

I have struggled off and on with how to talk to my son about what is going on with me. He knew that I was on anti-depressants but we hadn’t discussed why. He is 18 so obviously, my conversation with him would be different if he were 9 years old.

As it turns out, he had just assumed that the anti-depressants were to help with the pain and the stress of not having full use of my arms for the last almost year. I finally told him tonight that I was on anti-depressants because yes, they were supposed to help with the other things as well but the main reason I was taking them was for depression and anxiety.

He was genuinely concerned and interested but I was at a loss as to how to describe the feelings and struggles I’m having. I wanted to give him a basic idea without sharing too much. I don’t want him worrying about me (he’s really empathetic) as he has his own life to live. He knows that he is all that I have in my life (I rarely speak to my daughter – sadly I just can’t handle her negativity, drama, and lies) and the last thing that I want is for him to give up his plans for college/university because he doesn’t want to leave me ‘alone’. I am not his responsibility and I would never be able to live with myself if he sacrificed his future to take care of me.

So instead of going too much into detail with him or struggling to figure out how to explain what I’m going thru to him, I gave him the link to a webcomic strip that quite accurately describes life with depression.

Oddly enough, I only found the page today and read every single one of the comics, one after another. You should check it out and if you struggle like me to explain depression to others, send them to Depression Comix.

 

 

My Biggest Fear

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If you had asked me a year ago to share my biggest fears with you, I would have told you to go to hell. Why would I intentionally share my vulnerability? I’m sorry, do I look like someone who just fell off of the back of a turnip truck?

Now, if I were being forced to be honest and respond, my replies would have been slightly different than what most people would answer. I had no fear of dying, I’m not afraid of critters and slimy things,  I’m not afraid of being homeless, unemployed, not able to put food on the table. Heights don’t bother me, I like clowns, and I LIVE for horror movies. I accepted that I would likely always be alone. I had learned to love to analyze my behaviours and modify those that were reminiscent of my upbringing. Constant personal growth was a terrific thing and I embraced every opportunity to better myself.

I was invincible. 

But even super-heroes have their kryptonite.

My biggest fear a year ago (and for a large part of my life) was that I was/am absolutely terrified of turning out like my family.  

For those who are new to my blog, you can see a brief rundown of some of my family members HERE.

After being hospitalized in my teens and being forced to attend counselling, I swore that would be the last time things would ever be that bad. I was in control of my mind and as such could alter my behaviours so that I would never have to rely on any type of medications or support to function day to day. Yes, I was one of those people. I never looked down on anyone else for needing to be medicated or for reaching out for help. I knew first hand just how difficult it was to go it alone and recognized that not everyone had the strength to fight but damn it, I did!

To those who knew me and who had some idea of the issues I have faced over the years I was the ‘strong one‘. The one who always appeared to just bounce back no matter what obstacles were thrown in my path.  I would overcome everything, no matter how tough. Regardless of how the repeated trials may have broken most people down, I trudged on.

Now don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t a magician who made the depression just disappear. It always reared its nasty little head at the most inopportune times and I had to fight hard to get through life many times. The reality was, I had no choice but to fight. Giving in to depression was simply not an option for me. I used to ‘joke’ that my life sucked so badly that I couldn’t even kill myself if I wanted to. I was a single Mom and without me, my children had no one. I was it. Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt, Uncle, all of these roles were mine to fill.

Several things helped me to keep trudging on. The thought of my kids being alone or being ‘raised’ by any of their ‘family’ members. The thought of my children growing up around someone struggling with a mental illness. The inability to receive help even if I broke and needed it. My obsessive need to be independent and not ever be in a place where I need anyone.

For over 20 years it worked.

Until last year … last year everything went to complete hell. I don’t know how else to describe it other than I had a breakdown. First I lost control of my emotions and was crying all of the time (so very much unlike me). As each day had passed, I become more and more depressed. In May, after months of the same stuff, I just snapped. I stood at my door, dressed for work and I just couldn’t leave the house. Everything caused me way more stress than it should have. The ringing of my telephone would cause me to be short of breath, the pains in my chest would start, and I just wanted to throw myself out a window to make it all stop. I went to the emergency room where I was given some pain meds, anti-depressants, and a referral to a psychiatrist. I was finally able to see him in the latter half of October where anti-depressants were re-issued and the consultation note sent to the family doctor I had finally been able to get.

No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t drag myself out of hell this time around and this is the worst I have ever been. I am now on more than one anti-depressants and I have to go for counselling starting the beginning of February.  I can’t leave my house and have to force myself to attend the doctor and psychiatrist appointments. I plan my prescription refills around those days where I already have to force myself to leave the house, knowing full well that if I don’t I won’t go back out to get them. I have the paperwork here for blood work to be done prior to my physicians’ appointment at the beginning of February and I look at it daily, but I can’t bring myself to go.

So in addition to already struggling, I’m also now facing my biggest fear. I am like my family members. So where does that leave me? Who am I, if not the resilient, independent woman who needs no one and who is strong enough to fight thru everything?

Restless Nights

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Okay, this is beyond ridiculous. It’s after 10am and I still haven’t been to sleep. The night before last I fell asleep around 10pm and woke up at 10am. The night before that, I fell asleep at 8am and woke up at 1:30pm, night before that I was up until 4am and up at 10am.

I wouldn’t be so frustrated if I was at least able to use that time to be productive and accomplish something but NOOOOoooooo we can’t have that now, can we? I can’t sleep but I have zero desire to do anything either. Anyone who knows me knows all too well how much I hate wasting time, disorganization, and inefficiency and yet, here I am.

I have probably watched every single TED Talk that relates to Mental Illness, Neuroscience, Brains, and Psychiatry. I guess watching those is being slightly more productive than watching some mindless Netflix drama. I’m not really able to retain any of the information that I’m hearing but I’m trying to trick my brain into kicking back in … I really miss the ‘old’ me. It’s extremely frustrating to have my mind jumping all over the place and struggling just to put together a single coherent thought and I really miss being organized and generally having my shit together.

I wish I had this issue while I was back on night shift, perhaps I wouldn’t have worn myself down so badly that every aspect of my body decided to go on strike leaving me a miserable bitch who can’t leave her house.

 

What I Did Today

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I’m probably not mentally in the greatest place today. It could be that the memories from earlier triggered some unresolved feelings (aren’t they all though) but I just deleted my Facebook account.

I haven’t been signing on there often at all in the last few months as just the mere thought of someone wanting something from me or having to admin my groups was just too much pressure for me lately.

As I was going thru and removing myself from my groups and unliking pages prior to my account deletion I was thinking about the folks that I had on my “friends” list. Now a couple of them I would have considered friends until recently but the majority of them were people I had met online over the years, folks I had gone to high school with, or old friends that we just drifted apart and never spoke.

Why was I staying on Facebook? Those who I actually still speak to or consider a friend already know how to get in touch with me so what was keeping me there? The answer was that there was no sane reason. It was causing me more stress than anything. Any of the pages or groups that I followed, I can follow via. their webpage or other social media sites that I haven’t yet left.

I feel oddly relieved. Now that my phone won’t be going off constantly I will have one less thing causing me anxiety when I’m in my home, safe and hiding from the world. Even when it was on silent, the notifications on the screen stressed me out. It was the outside world invading my safe place and now I’m free of that.

Good riddance Facebook.

Memories Suck

As I sat here staring blankly at my computer monitor for what felt like hours, trying to motivate myself to do something or anything one of my cats jumps up on my desk and plops his fat ass in the middle of it.

 

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Little Skittles

 

Now, this was pretty cute when he was a much smaller kitten. He was always on my desk while I was ignoring the ‘reality’ around me and immersing myself in the online world where I could ignore all of my troubles and pain. When he was smaller, he didn’t block the bottom half of my monitor, nor did his body encroach on the small area in which I use my mouse.  I even have a bigger monitor and desk than I did when he was smaller! It doesn’t help.

 

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Big Skittles (Please ignore the messy desk and pretend that you don’t see the dust) 

 

Of course, this observation brought my mind back to a place where things weren’t great but I did have some amazing neighbours that always perked me up and refused to let my ass wallow in misery.  They saved me during the years that I lived there. This was the type of neighbourhood where you could knock on your neighbours’ door and ask to borrow an egg or a cup of sugar. They took care of one another. We were always having impromptu get-togethers in the middle of the street (it was on a dead-end street, kind of like our own little town within the city).

My next door neighbour was many years older than me and was old enough to have been my Mother. We spent many a night together after my children had gone to bed, drinking together and just talking about everything in our lives. Thankfully, she was always there to talk to when things were getting too rough and if I needed a break from my kids, they were always welcome there. We spent holidays together and were always welcomed at family events. My kids and I were so very lucky to have been blessed with her. She offered a Grandmotherly role for my kids while their own was either absent or causing hell in our lives.

On the corner was an older lady. She was in her late 80s and had more energy than folks half of her age. She was old school and I’m sure at times that she wondered about me (I’m much more tomboyish and in her day, ladies acted like ladies). She also played a role in the kids lives and often they would go over to help her out with whatever she needed.

Across the street from us was a single Mom who was shy and only occasionally came out to socialize with us but she was always pleasant and her kids would often come out to play with the others.

Then there was the Serbian family (I only say that because they were extremely proud of their heritage and reminded everyone on a regular basis). Originally, they didn’t like me but over the years, we got to be close and would often visit with one another (their youngest was in the same class as my youngest).

Down a few houses was another couple and their daughter. They weren’t the most intellectual group but they were always friendly and would help you out anytime if they could.

Next to the single Mom was a single guy. Now there’s a bit of a story here but he worked at a local university and was extremely intelligent. He and I used to talk for hours about anything and everything. For the first time in my life, I was able to have intelligent conversations with someone who didn’t get upset that I wasn’t a dumbass. Well, this gentleman was many years older (23 or so) than me but he was interested in a relationship with me. He was dying and didn’t want to go thru it alone. All of the neighbours pushed me to date him as he would have given me anything in the world and would have left me with his properties and my kids would have had a free ride to the university. It would have changed our lives … I just couldn’t do it. I didn’t care for him in that way and as such, I would only be with him to benefit from his death.

Sadly, he met a woman who was more than happy to take advantage and she treated him like crap. I had to stand by and watch this amazing man be taken to the cleaners by this selfish bitch. He ended up dying and leaving her everything.

I wish I could say that this was the only time in my life where I could have had an instant solution to my troubles but was unable to because of my morals and integrity. Hell, I wouldn’t have left that neighbourhood and would never have landed here and had my workplace injuries which lead me to where I currently am. I really dislike hindsight and would have should have … My life is full of them. If I had only made one different decision here or there my life could have turned out completely different.

I’m not one to spend time reminiscing about my past. I have always just tried to look forward but it would appear with these meds, I no longer have a choice. Try as I may, if I don’t randomly think about crap, then I’m dreaming about it. I’m really not impressed. If I can’t handle the present, why the hell would thinking about the past help me any? Sure, the neighbourhood was great and I had some good times there but I was forced to leave the place where I was finally able to begin finding myself so it’s not a good memory but rather, a sad one.

Are Mental Illnesses Caused By Genetics or Environment?

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I haven’t posted here in a while but it doesn’t mean that my brain has shut down, it won’t shut the hell up. Friday night I was awake all night only to finally fall asleep at shortly before 8am and last night I was up until shortly after 3am so I certainly have a lot of time to think. I’m trying my best to avoid what my mind wants to focus on so instead I compromise; I will think about topics that are related to the place where my mind wants to lead me rather than the actual thoughts that are doing me absolutely no good in getting out of this damn hole I’m in.

I know that the few readers of this blog either have someone close to them or they themselves, are dealing with some form of “mental illness” so I figure what better place to get feedback from others. Whether you suffer from depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, PTSD, OCD, or anything else I may not have mentioned, I would like to know your thoughts on this topic. Do you think that your mental illness is caused by genetics or by your environment and why? 

When you do a Google search for “Is mental illness caused by genetics or caused by your environment” you receive 865,000 results. I grew tired of reading the articles that went on and on to basically come to the same conclusion; no one really knows. Honestly, I don’t particularly care what researchers have to say, I want to know what people who live with mental disorders every day feel about the subject.

For me personally, I feel that it’s likely a combination of all of the above. I had a “difficult childhood” and by the time I hit my teens I was already smoking, drinking, doing drugs and cutting on a regular basis. When I was hospitalized in my mid-teens and forced to attend counselling I HATED it. I convinced everyone that I was ‘okay’ and learned to hide everything better.

As a result of my need to feel loved and be out of the house, I went on to fall in “love” with an asshole, got pregnant twice and he was gone before our son was three months old.  I proceeded to have relationship after relationship with people who treated me badly for the next 20 or so years.  My life has not been an easy one and in hindsight, of course, much of the crap I have been dealt has always been a result one or more poor decisions made because of my desperate need to feel cared about, wanted, or needed.  I had no self-esteem and as a result, never lived up to my potential (this in itself causes me much distress on a fairly regular basis) and also what contributed to my staying with people who didn’t treat me well.

Fast forward to almost 3 years ago; I had lost my job, my business, my home, ruined my credit and finally said enough is enough and packed up and moved away from the city to a town where I only knew a couple of people. I went complete no-contact with all but 2 of my family members (My Aunt and my half-sister) and I was finally truly happy for the first time. I had made it thru crisis number 5million four hundred and thirty-three unscathed. I became unemployed and was wiping my ass with dollar store toilet paper and eating ramen noodles but was still happier than I had ever been before in my life and was coping with anything life propelled my way.

Once I started with WSIB (Workers Comp) and was having issues with my employer as a result of my injuries all hell broke loose. I had lost my independence, my right to privacy was trampled all over (and continues to be), I was forced to attend appointments against my wishes, pain medications were refused, recommendations from doctors were ignored, my now ex-employer insists on appealing every decision to continue to harass me despite having fired me back in June, I didn’t have a family doctor and didn’t have any medications or counselling … I just snapped and here I am.

Now I don’t know if my current situation is solely because of the crap I’ve been dealing with (chronic pain, loss of independence, loss of my license, loss of my job, no idea what the future holds, concerned about losing housing, financial worries etc.) or if it’s a much bigger issue and this was just finally my breaking point. Sadly, I’m afraid this is also all of the above, but that’s a story for another day. This post would take you hours to read if I wrote everything that I wanted to add to my list of environmental influences.

As for the genetic side of things. I won’t go past first cousins and Aunts/Uncles but sadly there are more.

My Grandfather was an abusive, alcoholic who liked to phone everyone up to tell them he was going to kill himself. He eventually died because of his alcohol abuse.

My Grandmother was an enabler who had a thing for drunks and abusive men. My cousin whom I will mention later was her pride and joy and could do no wrong. 

My Mom was hospitalized in her teens for depression as well as attempting to overdose prior to getting pregnant with me (another story for another day). She displays all the traits of being a narcissist but again, no diagnoses here. She’s far too smart to get caught and have to go for any sort of testing. Seriously – she’s remarkably intelligent.

My Uncle had died of a drug overdose when I was about 3 or 4 years old. He too had mental issues but he was Grandma’s baby so no one ever talks about it.

Her sister, my Aunt, had Munchausen syndrome by proxy at least that’s how she behaved. I don’t believe she was ever diagnosed but goodness was my cousin ever at the hospital often and once she was too old to pretend she needed medical attention, all of a sudden my Aunt had all of these ailments herself.

My cousin, the above Aunt’s daughter was bulimic and depressed.

My other Aunt was also an alcoholic who struggled greatly with depression for as long as I knew her. She had several unsuccessful suicide attempts and would always phone someone so she could be rescued in time. She was also extremely intelligent, I wish I had known as much about her then as I do now.

Her son, my cousin was a real sweetheart (the police in the city knew our last name all too well thanks to all of the crazy shit our family has pulled on one another and others).  After several incidents with threats, assaults, being in juvenile hall, (I have newspaper articles somewhere) he was finally locked up in Kingston Penitentiary after setting his Mother and Step-Fathers house on fire and was determined to be in the 99th percentile .. meaning only 1% of the population was more likely than him to commit violent crimes. I honestly don’t know what he was all diagnosed as having as I hadn’t spoken to him since we were young but it was more than just the depression. He ended up hanging himself three years ago.

His Mother (the alcoholic) passed away in May (oddly enough, shortly after I had lost my shit on the phone with WSIB telling them I couldn’t do it anymore, I got a random Facebook message from my other Aunt that I hadn’t spoken to in over 10 years telling me it was important that I contact her. Apparently, they had found her sisters body in her apartment and the police had contacted her.) Months later, after originally saying the cause of death appeared to be an aneurysm, the coroner received the results of the autopsy and they now say she had very high levels of her antidepressants combined with alcohol in her system when she died. Despite being on disability and receiving counselling and antidepressants, it wasn’t enough to help her escape from herself.

Then there is my sister who I’m not going to talk about at great lengths. She is the biggest damn dishonest, shit-stirring bastard you’ll ever meet. She has caused a great many issues in my life over the years and I haven’t seen or spoken to her in or my nephew over seven years.

Last but not least is my half-sister. Out of respect for her privacy, I won’t post too much here in the event that others find this site but I can say that she definitely struggles badly every day with mental illness 😦 She is completely no contact with all family members aside from myself.

So yeah, in my case it’s likely a combination of genetics AND environment. Perhaps the majority of it is all environmental which then influenced my predisposition to any number of mental disorders.

What about you? Does your family have a history of mental illness or are you the only one?

 

Technology and My Mental Health

So it’s after 4am and here I sit again, still wide awake. I suppose that it’s a good thing I no longer have a job as there is no way I would be able to do squat with the way my sleep patterns are jumping all over the place. Some nights, I can’t keep my eyes open past 9pm and other nights (like tonight) I just can’t seem to get to sleep until 5am. There does not appear to be any rhyme or reason to the pattern. It’s all over the place, much like my mind lately.

I have continued to have a rough couple of days after my recent foray into the ‘outside world’. Today I ignored all notifications on my phone; which brings up the question – what effect does being constantly ‘connected’ have on your mental health?

I used to be a huge geek. No, really. I’m talking about ignoring my significant other at the time and only IMing one another when we had something to say like, “What do you want to have for dinner?” (This is another ENTIRE different story here but I won’t get into that now) Or we would play Age of Empires together against the computer. Our desks were across from each other! Throughout the relationship, we both worked several geeky type jobs. He did the management thing at an ISP, and then we ran our own hosting business together, then he went to a management role at a content filtering company. During this time, I was an administrative assistant at an ISP and I also created their website theme, rewrote/wrote their online tutorial section, provided first level support, and climbed grain silos to install wireless internet to rural areas. My next job was the web hosting with the partner and I had a paid graphic tutorial site and ran an online forum for Pixel Art. After that, I worked for the content filtering company that my other half worked at and I acted as a liaison between tech support and clients testing the software. My life pretty much revolved around computers and the internet. Of course, with those jobs, I always had smartphones so that I could be reached at all times.

My cell phone became my lifeline. I couldn’t leave my house without it and honestly, I even carried it around the house where ever I went. The phone was always by my side and as a result, I was always reachable, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Fast forward many years and I was no longer doing the ‘geeky thing’ but rather, running my own property management business which of course meant that I was required to be accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I literally only got Christmas day off because I turned off my phone. Those were the days, frantic 3am phone calls because there was a leak in the top floor and it had flooded all the way down to the main floor. Quite often I was working 70 hour weeks. When I wasn’t on site dealing with contractors, tenants, parents of tenants, or showing and leasing units, I was at home writing up notices, sending invoices, replying to emails, and scheduling contractors. After I lost a lot of money when I wasn’t paid for my 70 hour weeks and had a ton of businesses expenses, I ran out of money, my business shut down, and my credit was ruined (Yet another story here dealing with a boyfriend that turned out to be a narcissistic son of a bitch and who was the main cause of my downfall). I finally had enough and realized that I had to get out of the city. I spent the last of my money and moved out of town to where I live now.

Once I moved out here, the pace of life is slower but are not many jobs available so you pretty much take what you can get. I got the lucky job of working on a turkey farm where I was left with $100.00 a month to feed myself and my son. For security reasons, we were not allowed to have our phones with us while we were at work. We could leave them in our vehicles or we could leave them in the change room but they were NEVER to enter the barns. Since I was working 12-hour shifts and I had literally packed up and left town, only giving one or two people a heads-up as to where we were moving, no one called me and I guess you could say I was weaning off of my phone.

My last job (the one where I sustained my injuries and that caused me to have a breakdown which led me to where I am now) was similar: you couldn’t have your cell phones on the plant floor (I was a CNC operator so it was for safety purposes). I was working 6 days a week on mandatory overtime so I only had access to my phone for an hour or so in the morning prior to work and then briefly after work before I fell asleep or at least shut down for the night (day).

Now that I’m at home all day and people are messaging me, notifications from my groups are going off, or emails are coming in constantly, it stresses me right out. Some days I can answer and I’m okay with the messages and notification while other days, I swear I will smash the phone against the wall if one more person wants something from me, even if it’s just a reply to a nice message wishing me a good day (those messages actually really get to me lately – I’m in pain, I’m depressed, I’m anxious about EVERY. THING, I’m just a wreck. I’m really not likely to have a good day so piss right off! I want to just reply to those messages with a big ol’ “Fuck off!”). It’s just too much pressure some days. I had been trying to just turn off the notifications and put the phone on silent but then the screen was still lighting up which would cause me to stress out about what may be waiting for me as much as the verbal message indicators did.

 There is no reason that I should feel obligated to be at the beck and call of someone immediately just because they messaged. If it’s an emergency, folks know my phone number and they could call and leave a message. 

I’m hiding in my house because I can’t deal with people. So now, when I’m feeling overwhelmed, I put the phone across the room where I can’t see the screen lighting up. I’m quite content to leave the phone in my bedroom and carry on about my business from room to room (even if it’s mindless pacing). Heck, I have several messages on Facebook and Twitter right now and as much as those message indicators annoy the ever living hell out of me, they will remain there until I’m good and ready to deal with whatever people want.

On my worst days, I can’t even bring myself to go on the computer. The thought of having to think and type something out is too overwhelming. Hell, the thought of just signing on to the computer is too much. On my better days (like today), I go online and do some mindless surfing on Pinterest or search for Stock Photos, Fonts, and Vectors to use in all of the crafty ideas that I have that I never have the motivation to do. It allows me to kind of mindlessly focus on something more productive than the 54 different ways to kill myself that my brain insists on randomly showing me. If those thoughts weren’t so disconcerting, I might be impressed with the creativity that I’m exhibiting.  

So I guess for me right now, being constantly connected is both a good thing and a bad thing. It’s a good thing if I can use it to distract myself but it’s a very bad thing if it’s contributing to my already high, stress levels. Thankfully, I’m getting snarlier the longer I’m struggling with this depression and anxiety so it’s becoming much easier to just ignore people and not feel guilty doing so because I just don’t care if their little feelings are hurt, just as they sure don’t care about mine.