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It matters not how much you fall, but rather how often you get back up

September 3rd, 2010

Princess is back in the hospital. School started on August 25, and I have been monitoring her homework (checking her agenda book and comparing it to the completed work in her binder) and asking her about her school day and doing my best to keep the line of communication open. She met with her therapist on the Saturday before school started and again this past Saturday so she could first prepare herself to return to school and then process the first (partial) week of school to assess its success. Everything seemed fine.

When I picked Princess up from her aftercare program on Tuesday, I had a message that the school counselor wanted to see me. Princess and I gathered her things and sat down in the counselor’s office to talk. The counselor relayed that another student came to her to say that Princess had indicated that she was planning to bring a knife to school for the purpose of stabbing herself or cutting her throat. She’s never articulated a plan before, and never expressed thoughts so boldly violent. The counselor advised me that she would need written confirmation from some mental health professional regarding Princess’ abililty to return to class.

We made an appointment with the therapist, and Princess was vehement in saying she did not want to go back to the hospital. She later had an outburst that culminated in her locking herself in the bathroom, refusing to speak to me, and I told her through the door that if I could not get the key to work, I would call 911 and have them break the door down and take her to the ER in an ambulance. She came out, and finally admitted that her thoughts were too overwhelming to handle alone, and she thought she needed to go back to the hospital.

We arrived at the pediatric ER around 2:00. We met with the intake nurses and pediatrician and social worker. We waited for word about which hospital had a bed and would accept her into the program. I called and texted my husband (who was home with the boys) and my parents and my siblings with updates through the night. The food service people delivered Princess’ dinner to the adult ER, so it was cold by the time we hunted it down, but she ate it anyway. They fixed another dinner for her, so I ended up getting to eat something, too. The ambulance transport came just before midnight. I took my car and agreed to meet them at the hospital.

About halfway to the hospital, my car blew a tire. I sat at the side of the highway, sobbing so hard I thought I would vomit. My  husband called the pediatric ER staff, who called the transport company, who contacted the ambulance driver to  have him come back to get me. Another bus from the same transport company arrived a few minutes after we did, so the drivers kept me distracted with their chatter. I barely remember filling out the paperwork for the intake. The coordinator on the unit asked me if I had a ride home, and I asked her to help me call a cab. She did one better- she arranged for a transport voucher for me, since I wasn’t sure I had enough cash on me to pay for the 40 minute ride home.

I got about 3 hours of sleep before taking the boys to school and coming into the office. My boss is wonderfully understanding and supportive, and is allowing me to make my schedule day by day depending on what I feel I need. I don’t know what it is I need, though.

I am still standing, and I know that Princess is getting the help she needs. This is a different hospital than the one she was in during May. That program seemed to work then, but the doctor’s willingness to dismiss my suspicions of a biploar disorder bothered me. This hospital seems more open to the possibility that there is more going on than her anxiety/depression. And we will once again find our light at the end of the tunnel


August 18th, 2010

Darkest before the dawn, as they say.

I wonder, when will the light shine again,

when will the path be crystal clear and back on track?

I’m in charge of that, don’t want to be.

Not today, or tomorrow.  No sirree.

Suffering is a normal part of the human condition, we are not meant to be jolly all the time.  No, we are not.  The fairy tales, THEY LIE.

The sorrow, the sad, the confusion, the ick.

It lives inside of me waiting for the moment when I am weak.  It moves in, full stealth mode and brings the whole ick battalion.

Been here, done this, survived and got stronger.

Ride it out, hang on, keep my pace.

Save my face.

Your Story – Moving Forward

August 10th, 2010

Guest post by Majarani

I was diagnosed with ptsd about 5 years ago. I never realized that I could be “shellshocked.” I became obsessed with the stories of veterans, looking for a connection, searching for understanding and symptoms- so I could see what that doctor saw.

From a young age, I had panic attacks – being trapped in small places like elevators, even the dentists office. I could have them in crowded spaces. But then I went for many years without a panic attack. “I’m cured!!” I thought.

Present day: The panic attacks are back- and full force. I can’t even function in the middle of an attack. I have xanax stashed in every corner of my house, work, car. I am frozen. I am out of my own body. I am afraid.

I realized while the panic attacks lay dormant for a while, I was never “healed” of ptsd. The emotional centers of my brain are cauterized. I don’t feel happy, sad, angry, hopeful. I feel levels of anxiety. Low levels of fear are good. I can function. Moderate levels cause me to turn my car around, drive 30 miles back home to make sure I turned off the coffee maker. Extreme levels cause me to go to the secret place on my property and hide. I can’t even tell you where it is because I don’t want you to find me. I have to know I’m safe there.

I need more than this in my life. I have seen therapists and psychiatrists, and at its peak I was seeing three doctors once a week. We all worked together.

I thought I was doing ok. Until my boyfriend said “If I was your husband, I’d have you committed.” Oh.

I have an appointment with a ptsd specialist tonight. I hope she can help me come out of hiding.

School daze

August 9th, 2010

It’s back to school time, which always brings a certain amount of angst to my household. This year, though, we have an extra something hanging over our heads.

As last school year rounded toward its close, Princess had a significant downward spiral.  She began to have thoughts of self-harm and a rising number of anxiety attacks. I got a call from the school nurse on a Thursday afternoon in late May telling me that Princess had tried to choke herself.  Twenty-four hours later, she and I were both sitting in a hospital room as we waited for a placement in a pediatric psychiatric facility.  She checked in on Saturday and checked out the following Friday, but did not return to school until mid-week, and only for the non-pressure events of the end of year carnival and final school day Mass.

We enrolled Princess in an intensive outpatient program over the summer, to deal with her anxiety and further develop both her coping skills and her socialization with her peers.  Upon the advice of the medical staff at the hospital, we took her off of her ADHD medication (stimulants often exacerbate anxiety disorders) and increased the dosage of her anxiety medication. While the journey is far from over, she did learn to identify the anxiety-provoking situations and ways to keep them in proper perspective and cope with them in the best way she can.  Much of what she has learned hasn’t been put to the test yet, but she has been more cooperative at home and less likely to freak out on her brothers (which is no small feat, given Hoss’ potential for anger outbursts as a result of his mood disorder).

I remain nervous.  While the elimination of the stimulants for the ADHD is likely a good idea (the hospital staff noted Princess’ ability to focus on her work without the meds, leading to a conclusion that her previous issues may have been driven by anxiety instead of inattention), it has been close to impossible to address the anxiety created by being in middle school and dealing with the school day.  Middle school kind of sucks, even for a “normal” twelve year old.  Kids can be cruel, either by intent or by ignorance.  Add an anxiety disorder and some established socialization issues to that mix, and it’s going to be a hard road for my baby to face.  And I am once again helpless to make it OK.

No Time For Feelings

May 25th, 2010

Work has sucked me dry lately.  The week before last I clocked 71 hours on a high-pressure project.  It’s been a few years since I was pushed this far out of balance, into a life that’s all work and no play.

It’s definitely unhealthy.  My eyes have gotten twitchy.  I wake up in the middle of the night worrying about work, needing to get up and jot down to-do lists that might otherwise be lost by morning.  Then I can’t get back to sleep.

I’ve started to feel panicked, claustrophobic, like a prisoner in my own life.  The place where I work has no windows.  It’s possible to completely lose perspective there, to forget that life goes on outside, that just across the road is a beautiful park filled with birds, butterflies, and flowers.  I don’t even have five minutes to go out and look at it.  I can’t even go to the bathroom without four people stopping me on the way there to ask me questions or tell me what they need from me.

I feel like I don’t know who I am anymore.  I’m just this robot that works and works and works.

It’s a temporary thing.  It’s all on account of a big project that I’ve been working on, starting in January and already on the downswing.  A couple more months and I should be able to breathe again.  Still.  It’s a long time to go without breathing.


January 23rd, 2010

Like pain, anxiety is one of those things that you can’t properly remember if you aren’t actually experiencing it.  It’s so visceral and gripping.

In the past few weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to get re-acquainted with anxiety.  I forgot how involuntary it can be.  I could be consciously thinking about anything, even engrossed in conversation with a friend, when suddenly my ears start burning, my heart starts pounding, and I wonder if I’d better run to the bathroom because I might actually puke.

Consciously, I believe that I can handle it all.  I love my job, and I don’t resent being the manager who has to stay calm and absorb the anxieties of everyone else who needs to blow off steam during the workday.  I get satisfaction from seeing someone leave my office feeling noticeably better than when they came in.

But later, I wake up in the middle of the night with my pulse pounding in my ears, and I can’t get back to sleep without a shot of vodka.

There are other things, personal relationships, adding to the stress pile.  Nothing I can do to change that.  The relationships are what they are, and I just have to feel my way through them until they become clearer.

I’m coping by doing as little as possible on evenings and weekends.  The occasional outing to see a friend is healthy.  Otherwise, you’ll find me parked in front of the TV, giving my mind and body a neutral environment to rest in.  I told my volunteer position that I can’t take any shifts for the next few months.  I’m letting my husband do most of the housework.

I don’t anticipate any let-up in the stress for at least another few months.  But still, it’s only temporary.  I’ve survived worse.  I’ll make it through.

Forward motion

December 29th, 2009

Swimming in and out of clear thinking, feeling as if i am sinking.

I do not want to fully go to the place where the surroundings are dark, cold, and wet with sadness.

I must find the way out of this tricky terrain of blinding emotions, I must get in MOTION.


I will move out of this place, I won’t stay.

Perhaps it is necessary for me in order to move on to the next chapter.


It’s time.

To move onward, to push forward.

To get the fuck back up.

I can and I will, my will is strong.

Falling, slipping, skinning my knees is to be expected but not enough of a reason to keep me down.

Look for me I’m still there, wave as I walk past.