Friday, December 13, 2013

Friendships

I have never had a friend I know this well. I think it's relationships like this that people are talking about when they spout on about creating a family with friends. But it is kind of hard to learn how to make and keep friendships when you spend your entire childhood and early adulthood bouncing from place to place. I've done things for people that their own bio family members wouldn't do for them, and I still get dumped for reasons I don't understand. Leaves me feeling pretty defective and disposable. 
thoughtcatalog.com/brianna-wiest/2013/12/17-things-that-happen-when-youve-been-friends-with-someone-for-literally-ever/
 
 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Working on Thanksgiving night

Thanksgiving...

A painful reminder of everything I have lost in life or just never had.  Family, traditions, awkward obligations.   

Thanksgiving night...

An extreme trauma anniversary for me.  The night I lost what little was left of my childhood at age 9. 

This year I am supposed to work the night shift Thanksgiving night.  I have no idea how I will get through it.  I have survived it the rest of my life by medicating or self medicating it away.  I have no idea how I'm going to manage to get through it conscious and alert.  I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous about it.


Friday, November 15, 2013

Is it worth it?

This is the third holiday season that I will miss from his life.  Is whatever I did and all the miscommunication we are ALL so guilty of so unforgivable that I must lose out on so much of a the life of a child I got to know and love?  A child that I helped create?  Why is it so easy to walk away from me?  People grow tired of hearing me say that everyone always leaves.  But what they don't understand is that it's not so much the abandonment I am talking about, but rather the ease at which people are able to slam the door on my face.  It's the fact that I don't get second chances like real family members do.  I am not allowed to have needs or be human, or have a breakdown when everything in my life becomes too hard for me.  It's the ease and frequency at which people have walked away in my life that I am talking about and not the fact that they've actually walked away.

I do not claim innocence in the destruction of the relationship, but I also refuse to hold all the blame anymore.  Does one fallout in a relationship really justify keeping me from the majority of this child's life?  Why make me a part of the family and allow me to get to know and love this child, if they wanted me gone?  Do I really not deserve some understanding and forgiveness.  Is my emotional breakdown really enough to walk away from me after everything we've been through together?  Is a posting on a nobodies blog with a handful of readers enough to dissolve your feelings for me?  Is it enough to lock me out of his life?  Is it enough to make me miss out on all his firsts, to discover his health scares on the internet. To never hear him say my name?  To not get to watch him laugh and learn and grow up into a beautiful child?   

I no longer ask if I am worthy of love because I know fucking well that I am worthy of love.  I'm a good person with a big heart that does everything she can for the people she loves.  I did something huge for you and I didn't do it for anything in return.  I am a good person, someone who has never shown that child anything but love, tickles, and giggles.  I am someone who loves that child not because of the genetic link but because I grew to know and love him for two years.  I never expected or asked for all the promises I received in return for my offer five years ago.  What I ask now, is your inability to forgive and see beyond your own feelings really worth it?  Is it really worth breaking all your promises to me and your child?  Is it?  Three years of his life for one fallout.  Three years of his life because my PTSD hit me hard and I really needed help.  Three years of his life because I broke and really needed the word family to mean something, because I needed help.  I was drowning, hurting, and terrified.  Is it really worth it to you?  Three years and counting. 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Dangers of Psychiatry


I work a lot.  I mean a lot.  So when I have free time I typically clean my apartment, take my dogs out, and sleep.  Then I go back to work.  I don’t make enough money to afford days off.  I don’t always have enough for my bills and food.  I pick up as many extra shifts as I can so I can make ends meet.  It’s stressful.  It’s exhausting.  But I am managing.  I’m managing life better than I have in a very long time. 

I have been off all medications for a while.  I don’t even take the tiny doses of Lexapro to ward off the brain zaps anymore because I no longer have brain zaps.  My brain now functions 100 percent on its own.  And you know what?  It’s doing a way better job than it did with medication.  So much better in fact that I’m now certain that the drugs played a huge part in my mental health decline and severe suicidal ideation.  

I have had a pretty difficult last four or five years.  My mental health began to fall after I went through IVF for someone I loved and wrongly assumed loved me (enough) too.  After the IVF and subsequent egg donation, my mental health plummeted.  I was having a very difficult time dealing with my extreme emotions as well and the added grief of my own loss of fertility, my newly acquired health problems, and the trauma of everything involved with the extreme premature birth of the twins, death of one of the twins, and sudden drop what I believed was my family life.  On top of this, I had to figure out where I was supposed to fit into this new family I was promised to be a part of, but wasn’t really.  It was all so triggering for me, and probably for anyone.  But it was especially triggering for someone with my history of abandonment, and extreme longing to belong to a family.

Within five months of going through IVF for my friends, I was on psych meds and in therapy.   It was jolting how fast I fell, and kept falling.  From the day I first sat down with a psychiatrist, my mental health slide downhill.  Only it was a fucking landslide. 

I went to a doctor and a therapist asking for help with my present issues, as well as my past of foster care and severe abuse.  What I got instead were drugs that made it even harder for me to function and mental health professionals who looked at me as a diagnosis and symptoms.  When treatment didn’t work for me, I was given harsher, more judgmental labels like the ever damning, “Borderline Personality Disorder.”  This is a label they give to many people when treatment doesn’t really work for them.  I reached out for help, but what I got was the opposite of what I needed. 

I was suicidal as a child, but when I look back, I realize that I was also on psychotropic meds then as well.  I began to refuse meds in my teens and my life stabilized.  I was never suicidal again, until I began to take meds as an adult.

Life has NEVER been easy for me.  I have to deal with things that are far more difficult than the average person has to deal with ever in their lives--Foster care, growing up constantly moving and experiencing rejection, severe childhood abuse including rape, child pornography, extreme neglect, etc…  All that comes with a price, sure, but I have always been very resilient.  More than resilient.  I went from being a failure to thrive baby and child, to mute, to award winning violinist, straight A student, to graduating high school in the top 5 percent of my high school class even though I went to seven high schools and spent the last six months of my senior year homeless.  I put myself through college, including living in my car on school breaks.  I maintained long term romantic relationships.  I volunteered.  I worked.  I functioned.  I lived.  

I still struggled emotionally and I still do today.  I still have PTSD.  I still have anxiety.  I still have insomnia.  I still have nightmares and panic attacks.  I still feel really sad and hopeless sometimes.  The difference is, I CAN BREATHE since coming off the meds.  I was drowning.  My ability to cope was dying.  Each and every stressor just piled on and I began to disappear into this sea of mental instability.  I had no hope.  I couldn’t see beyond all the pain, loss, and fear that had engulfed me.  I couldn’t SEE anything.  I was lost and blind without a guide.

The doctors and therapists never once stopped to question if any of my symptoms were caused by the meds.  When I told them Effexor, for example, was making my vision blurry, they told me it would go away.  I would have a massive panic attack within half an hour of each dose of Effexor when they first started me on the drug.  Instead of taking me off of it, they just added more drugs.  When I told the doctors and my therapists that I was having very scary thoughts and impulses that didn’t start until Effexor came into my life, they never once attributed this to the drug, even when my behavior and thoughts became drastically different.

The last time I was hospitalized, I told my therapist that I wanted to stop taking Effexor.  It increased my panic attacks dramatically.  It made my suicidal ideation unbearable.  It gave me extreme insomnia, extreme nightmares, and severe dissociative episodes.  I had one severe panic attack in front of my friend, that I met on this blog, which she said looked like a seizure.  I began having impulses that scared me.  I had the urge to push people in line at Starbucks.  I didn’t want to hurt them; I just wanted to see what would happen.  I had the impulse to drive my car into poles, to eat dangerous inedible things, to cut off all my hair, to do other very impulsive and dangerous things.  I began to act in ways that was very unlike me, like for example, walking out of a store with pork despite that fact that I am a vegetarian and would never eat pork because of the affection I had for the pigs I raised as a child (not to mention the fact that I don’t shoplift).  I was dissociating at this time. 

When I told my treatment team this, they called the police and the police come to my apartment for a welfare check.  They came to check on me in front of all my neighbors, put me in handcuffs, took me to the station, then took me to the hospital where the doctors and nurses there held me down and forcibly removed my clothing despite my pleading for them to let me keep my pants on because the hospital gown alone was triggering for me.  When I was raped as a little girl, I had to have reconstructive surgery which required me to spend days in a hospital gown while people did very violating medical procedures to my body.  The doctors treated me, not with compassion and understanding, but with force and judgment.  They treated me like a “mental patient.” FYI, I have been to the hospital many times for gallbladder issues and ALWAYS kept pajama pants on without ever having a problem. 

When I was hospitalized for the last two times, they kept me there for weeks, forcing me to take these same medications or stay in the hospital longer, so I took the meds plus the ones they added. 
Add up all of the side effects from the meds on top of dealing with a legal case involving me  as a child in child pornography, having the family  I thought I’d created and built with friends tell me that they didn’t want me around anymore, nor could I  see the child I helped them create anymore, losing my job, not being able to find work, my failing 7 year relationship, my foster mothers appearing and disappearing, my biological mother’s cruelty, and my severely unstable relationship with a therapist who constantly made threats of dumping me...

My obsession with suicide started at the same time I started psychotropic medication.  It got worse and worse until I acted on it.  I had all of these things happening in my head, all of the time.  My brain was replaying my abuse in my head over and over again.  I was getting raped, beaten, abandoned, abused, and screamed at over and over again inside my head.  I began to have severely debilitating body memories, and long periods of depersonalization and dissociation.  I was triggered ALL the time.  My brain could not cope.  I asked a therapist and a doctor for help, but what I got did not help me.  What I got hurt me, until thankfully I could no longer afford treatment.  I stopped treatment, not because of wisdom.  I stopped treatment because I no longer had the money to pay for it.  So in a way, homelessness saved my life. 

I stopped taking the meds.  That process was very very difficult.  My stability plummeted.  I had severely uncomfortable and alarming physical and psychological side effects for quite a long time.  But now that I am off of these meds and no longer seeing a therapist who was doing more damage than good, I am once again functional.  I still struggle.  I still have flashbacks, nightmares, hopelessness, insomnia, depression.  I still have panic attacks and dissociative moments.  None of that has gone away.  The only thing that has changed is my ability to cope with it.  My brain is no longer so overloaded all the time.  I don’t feel like I am on the verge of complete eruption.  I don’t think about killing myself every moment of the day.  On October 10th, it will be one year since I have cut myself or self-injured in any way.  I have had maybe four drinks total this year.  I have not had one sip of Nyquil.  I go to work 50-70 hours a week.  I get out of bed when I don’t have to.  I think about the future. 

When I look back at the last four years I am angry.  I am angry at all my doctors and therapists.  I am angry at the hospitals.  I am angry at my friends who abandoned me when I was so vulnerable and alone.  I lost a lot these last four years.  More than most people do in a lifetime.  But I’ve gotten some things back this year.  I got hope back.  I got myself back. 
   




Sunday, July 21, 2013

so very tired

I'm so overly tired.  I just got off a twelve hour shift and most of it was just sitting on my butt because all the residents went to sleep early.  My job is so mind numbingly boring, except for when it's crushingly stressful.  And I'm tired.  I can't complain, because it's better than homelessness and being reliant on others.

Maybe my depression and other problems are just back.  I don't know.  I feel exhausted all the time.  I have such a hard time sleeping during the day and I just feel so heavy, physically and emotionally.  Everything feels so freaking hard.  It's hard to go to work.  It's hard to sleep.  It's hard to stay awake.  It's hard to take care of some things I need to take care of, like register my car and pay for a speeding ticket I got while driving my stuff back from LA.  I'm working so hard, so many hours, like 70 a week, but I'm still so freaked out about paying for bills and managing on my own.  Things are okay now, but all it takes for that okay to disappear is my car to breakdown, some unexpected bill of some kind, and then I won't be able to pay and I won't be able to get to work if my car breaks down.  That's a very realistic probability.  It's a 1996 with 210,000 miles on it.  I can't stop worrying about that. 

I think part of me is just super lonely too.  I have a couple of friends here, but I don't have a social life.  Part of that is because I'm always so tired.  Part of that is because I'm pretty shy and don't make friends easily.  Part of that is because I don't really want friends who are just going to take off anyway.

My sister is staying with me right now, for a couple of weeks.  She's going back to the middle east on the 24th and she's been with me since the 12th.  Having her here is so frustrating because I so desire that sisterly bond with her, but she's only focused on herself and her fucking schizophrenic delusions.  She's utterly self involved and so disrespectful.  She has no respect for my things, my personal space, my finances.  I think part of it is she feels like I'm here sister so she can just do whatever she wants.  But part of it is she just doesn't care about how her actions affect me.  And OMG, I can't tolerate the lying and delusions.  Everywhere we go someone is "mumbling under their breath" about her.  She's being "discriminated against" by everyone.  Everything on TV, the radio, magazines, the newspaper is somehow about her or a message to her.  It makes me angry and sad, and feel so freaking disconnected from her.  And my other siblings are no longer "friends" with me on FB.  I have no idea why or when that happened.  I literally haven't had any interaction with them in months, good or bad.  

I'm feeling pretty alone and scared about life right now.  My anxiety is way high and I don't take meds anymore, so it's not like I can just pop a klonopin.  I don't really feel that safe at work anymore.  Not when the resident who assaulted me had absolutely no real consequences.  Nothing.  Like nothing ever happened.

And I just feel so alone in this world.  I know I have people out there that care about me.  I have a few great friends.  But I just have this deep seeded feeling that I am totally alone in this world.  People tell me that they care about me, or in the case after a "break up" people say they "still" care about me.  But really I have no idea what that means.  And I get it A LOT.  I want to know what the but is in that sentence, but I never ask.  K (mother of my egg baby) "still cares about me."  But dumped me.  My foster mom still cares about me but can't offer me anything other than email when she feels like it once a year or so... after telling me she was my mom, and family, and that there wasn't anything I could ever do that would change that.  I have people who care about me, I guess, but I'm so alone.  I feel so alone.  I don't know how to shake it off.  It's a suit I've warn my whole life and I can't take it off.  And it sucks.

I've been crying a lot lately.  Like everyday.  For maybe an hour or so a day, sometimes twice a day.  so very tired of it.  all of it.  

Monday, July 8, 2013

You're an adult now. You don't need a family anymore.

Someone on a Foster Care Alumni group asked if we ever regret not being adopted.

Here is my answer:  I still dream and cry and yearn to be adopted as much as I did when I was a little girl. I have gone to great lengths, making huge sacrifices, to try to create a family for myself and it never works. I want to be part of a family more than I want legs to walk on. And I've come to realize that those who have family connections, even really crappy ones, just don't understand this feeling. I get a lot of this kind of sentiment: "You're an adult now. You don't need a family anymore." Yes I do and just as much.

I have also been told that no family is better than a bad family.  I beg to differ.  Even with a crappy family, you have those ties and connections, and belonging, even if it's also dysfunctional and painful and all that other crap.  It hurts, but it's a different kind of pain.  A very different kind of pain and loss, especially when you have constant rejection and loss of family in your life.  It leaves you feeling pretty fucking disposable and worthless.  

I should be sleeping right now because I work tonight, but the tears are falling.  Fuck.  Why didn't I ever get a mom, or a dad, or a grandparent, or an aunt or an uncle, or just a really cool cousin?  Most people get to have people in their lives that they've known for their entire lives.  I got people in my life for a few months to a few years at a time.  It's still that way to day.  

When will this stop hurting so much?  I'm trying.  I'm trying not to want a family anymore and to "radically accept" things as just the way they are, but it's like this huge loss that I can't mourn.  How do you mourn something you never had?  How do you mourn a missing part of your human existence?  How do I stop feeling so alone?  How do I stop feeling so hungry ALL THE FUCKING TIME?

Monday, June 3, 2013

Trying to take care of myself

I am actually writing this from work.  I am working a night shift and for once every single client is asleep.  That almost never happens.

I am feeling a bit bummed out because I prepared an application for an apartment I wanted, right off a lake, but I got a call half an hour before my appointment time to tell me that the apartment had been rented.  How does that happen?  I had just talked to her an hour earlier.  Finding an apartment has been somewhat challenging.  First I was looking for an apartment for both my sister and me.  She really needs someone to take care of her and I wanted to make sure she's safe, but at the same time living with her puts me at risk.  It puts me at risk of paying for an apartment I can't afford on my own if/when she decides to run away and disappear.  She has never once finished a lease in her life.  It puts my mental health at risk because constantly dealing with her delusions and risky behavior are so stressful and hard for me.  It puts me at risk because she literally posts her address and phone number on the internet and on her public facebook account for anyone to see.

I had been planning to live with her and was prepared to send in an application for an apartment that is way more than I can afford alone when she calls me freaking out and saying she needs to leave the country because someone implanted a tracking device in her while she was sleeping.  She then became very angry, rude, and verbally abusive toward me.  I called the crisis line to see what to do.  So living together is out of the question.  She said she didn't want to live with me last week, but when I picked her up for coffee on Friday she kept talking about the apartment we were going to get together.  I asked her if she remembered telling me she didn't want to live together.  She said that it was because she didn't get enough sleep.  Um... Okay.  I started to feel bad about my decision to not live with her, especially after she told me that she made a mental health appointment to get back on meds and start therapy.  I told her over and over again how proud I was of her.

Well...  When I offered to drive her to this appointment yesterday she refused and then ended up telling me that it wasn't a mental health appointment.  She had a consultation appointment at a plastic surgeon for liposuction.  WTF?  I told her that it's not okay to lie to me about stuff like that.  She could have just told me that she didn't want to tell me what kind of appointment she had.  She just brushed me off.  Then later, after her appointment, she asked me if I would cosign for her 5000 bill because her credit is "poor."  I said no and she laid on the guilt about how it will make her feel better about herself, blah blah blah. 

I love my sister and I want her to be safe and get help, but she has to want that for herself too.  I need to take care of myself and I can't do that if all of my energy goes into her.  My anxiety skyrockets when I am around her.  And that triggers everything else.  So even though it's very hard for me and I feel very guilty about it at times, I have made the choice to take care of myself.  So I have to get an apartment without my sister.

Looking for an apartment just for me is tough because I haven't lived by myself since I was 17.  I've always had a roommate or a relationship.  This time it's just me.  The price for a one bedroom or studio is not that much less than a two bedroom.  I am looking for something that is going to be no more than half of my take home pay per month.  And sadly, I am not sure I will be able to do that.

Good thing my company offers tons of overtime.  I am working a double-shift tonight.  I will barely have enough time to get some sleep and come back here.  Well, at least I get paid time and a half for it.  

Monday, May 13, 2013

$tarted working

I started working today.  I went to orientation at 8 Am this morning and will continue with this schedule for two weeks until I start working at my actual placement, which will be from 11PM to 7AM.  I'm so happy to have a job but I keep having mini panic attacks about money.  I don't know how I am going to survive on the amount they will pay me.  It is literally half of what I made at my last job.  They will offer me benefits after two or three months of employment, but that would cost me about $100 a month out of my already super low paychecks.  There is just no way I would be able to afford therapy on that.  Plus if I ever need to be in the hospital, it will cost me a $3500 deductible.  How would I pay that on my tiny hourly wage?  I actually thought about just going on disability because I would make almost the same amount of money and I would have free health insurance.  It would be the easy way out.  I'm so paranoid about medical bills right now since I still owe the hospital about 100k for my stay and surgeries in March.

I mean, I don't think I will ever go back to therapy again.  Now that I have some space from it all, I realize how bad CT was for me.  So triggering and harmful in so many ways.  I am doing so much better without therapy.  I don't think it's for me anymore.  I tried to get help, but it ended up sending me into this very dark place for a couple of years.  I'm doing much better now, but I am having crying spells that are increasing and lots of anxiety and nightmares.  I think some of that is just situational, but I am sure some of it is just from my crazies.  I am almost totally off my meds.  I called and begged my old doctor to write me an RX for some of my meds because I can't handle the serotonin discontinuation syndrome that I've been having, but I am literally only taking 1/4 my dose every 3-5 days just to keep the brain zaps away.  I got some ambien as well, but only half of my normal dose.

But back to the money thing...  My heart rate kept raising every time we talked about that stuff in orientation today.  I'm so worried about supporting myself.  I don't know how to pay for rent, bills, food, student loans, medical bills, etc...  on what I will be making.  Not being able to provide for myself has triggered a whole bunch of crap for me.  I don't want to live with my sister, but I feel like I have to because I can't afford to live on my own, but if I live with my sister I am going to end up being more of a mom to a twenty-something with Schizophrenia/schizoaffective disorder.  I can barley care for myself. 

I have so much I want to write in my blog all the time, but it's like I've lost the energy for this, and I worry about who reads it these days.  I want to write because I feel like I have lost a friend when I don't.  This used to be a place that I came to vent, blow off steam, process, find support, have my ideas challenged, etc...  But it's also been a source of a lot of pain.  A source of a lot of rejection and getting myself in trouble.  It's done probably just as much harm as it's done good for me.  



Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Guess who got a job?

Me.  That's who!

My background check was finally fixed and the transitional living program offered me a job.  It will be a night job that doesn't pay enough to survive, but IT'S A JOB! and it's mine.

I still have to:  Get finger printed, get a physical, a drug test, my transcripts, and other papers, but if all of that checks out fine, I will start May 13th. 

:-)

Monday, April 22, 2013

I have really great friends

This hasn't always been the case, but right now I have really great friends.  I really do.  I may not be blessed with family, but I have been very blessed with friendships.  I don't know if it is because I am learning to let myself need and trust people more.  Or if I am learning to let people see and know more of me and my history.  I'm being more open.  I am feeling less ashamed of some of it and more okay if people know.  Maybe I am learning to judge people better, or I'm just finding better people.  Maybe it's a huge combination of all of those things.  I don't know, but right now I am feeling very blessed to have the people I have in my life.

The friends I am staying with are amazing people.  It is just so easy and comfortable being with them.  It's a lot of fun too.  We laugh a lot.  I was talking with them about this really amazing apartment complex in a very nice part of town, that is built to blend in with the other pricey apartments in the area, but it's made for low income people.  One of my friends said she wanted me to move into the studio (where I have been staying) and stay here.  It was so sweet.  It tugged at my heart a little bit.  I felt wanted and I never feel wanted.

Right now I am going through a lot, but you know what?  I am feel relatively stable and content.  I am out of all of my meds.  I slowly tapered myself off of my Lexapro because I had to.  I am still having some withdrawal issues, and I was falling apart when I first started going off of them, but other than the withdrawal stuff, I am feeling pretty content.  I feel more able to manage and calm myself.  I will admit that my anxiety is pretty bad.  I wish I had some klonopin and a sleeping medication because both my anxiety and my sleep are not so great, but I am feeling much better and more stable than I have in a very long time.  And I am feeling this way despite everything that has happened this year thus far.  It makes me wonder if the medication has really ever helped me at all.  I honestly think I felt worse on the meds.  But maybe it's living in my new state?  I like it here a lot.  I miss the sunshine and my friends in LA, but I really want to stay here.  I hope I can find a way to support myself here and make it my forever home.  It just feels like a good match for me.  The greenery, the quirkiness, the friendliness, the community, the vegans, the weirdos...  It all makes me happy.

Just some pics I feel like uploading.

These are two of my friends' six very spoiled cats

It's just so pretty here!


One day there were rainbows exploding all over town!


I volunteered at an animal sanctuary with my friends last week.  Look at some of the friends I made!



Monday, April 8, 2013

Foster care and trauma did not create me

Sometimes well meaning people say the strangest things.  I know they say them with good intentions, but it just makes me feel icky.  A friend said something like this to me today when she was asking me about foster care.  She's very curious about it lately for some reason.  I told her about what foster care was like and what it's still like for kids in care and she said, "I'm sorry that happened to you but it has made you who you are today and who you are is a really great person."  I've also heard this in the past, "What happened to you has made you a strong/er person."  These statements are in the same family of "Everything happens for a reason."  Don't get me started on that fucked up statement. 

No.  Foster care did not make me a great person.  I am not a great person because of foster care, or my severe childhood abuse, or any of the other awful things that happened to me.  What if I am just a really great person?  Because I just am?  What if I am a really great, strong person DESPITE what I went through?  Would I be a pitiful weak asshole if I had a normal life?

Foster care and severe childhood trauma did not make me who I am today.  They did not make me a strong person.  I am who I am, because that's just who I am.  Foster care did not create me.  Foster care does not define me.  I am who I am DESPITE the horrible things that happened to me before, during, and after foster care.  Foster care and child abuse hurt me, and made me weaker in some areas.  I struggle today because of foster care.  I suffer in ways I shouldn't because of foster care.  And what about those people who are not doing as well as me?  Why didn't foster care and abuse make them stronger?  What about all those former foster kids and child abuse survivors that make up those horrifying statics?  Foster care and trauma did not make me strong.  I survived because I am strong, not the other way around.

Foster care and my abuse history are definitely part of me and my life, but they are not who I am as a person.  They don't get to take credit for the good things that I am and do in life.  I am the one who makes those choices and does those things.  My traumas did not create me.  I made and continue to create myself.  Foster care and my abuse history often makes it difficult for me to be myself.  I have to make the choices to fight to survive everyday.  Foster care and childhood abuse don't do that for me.  I do that for me.  Foster care and my childhood abuse did not create me.  I am not those awful things.  I am a whole person, independent of them.  I am everything I am, good, bad, funny, sweet, annoying, etc... because of ME.  I make me.  Just like you make you.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Getting a background check

I had a second interview for a job working with young adults in transition from foster care and those with mental health issues.  I got invited back for a third interview on Thursday at the group home.  They called me on Friday and told me that they are moving ahead to background and reference checking.  So... I don't want to get too excited, but unless there is something on my record I'm not aware of, I have a job. 

I will be working twice a much as I did at UCLA, and I will be making $1100 a month less (or over $13,000 a year less), but it's better than nothing.  It is an over night job so I will be able to find a second job and go to grad school once I am a resident of this state.  Sorry I haven't updated in a while.  I've been putting all my energy into finding a job and figuring out a place to live. 

I've been helping my sister a lot.  We've talked about sharing an apartment.  I have some major reservations about that.  I told her we can talk about it, but there would be some big rules if we did that like she would have to be on medication and go to therapy.  She would also have to have some kind of structured activity like school or a volunteer job.  I don't know what to do about that.  There are major pros and MAJOR cons to that idea.  Right now I am leaning towards no, but she is also going back to the middle east for five or six months, so it would really only be a temporary situation.
 Physically I've been doing pretty well.  Still having some digestive issues, but the supplements I am taking are helping a little.  It has only been three weeks since I had surgery so I need to be more patient.  Mentally I've been feeling a little depressed.  I think part of that is the weather here.  I need to invest in one of those "happy lights" or go to a tanning bed.  Part of it is just about finding a job and the difficulty I am having with that.  It's depressing to be applying for jobs that pay half of what I used to make, especially when I didn't use to make that much money in the first place.  I think the amount I will get paid at this new job will qualify me for food benefits, sadly.  Part of it is sadness because I miss my friends and the usual sadness about the friends who choose not to be an active part in my life anymore.  It's hard to constantly go through that, may fault or not.  I miss my friend, S, a lot.  We chat at night a lot on facebook and through text, but I used to see her almost everyday and it's been months now.  I can't wait until I have my own apartment and she can come visit and I can persuade her to move here. 

This job that I may be getting offers benefits, but after 90 days.  So I am not sure how to get my meds until then.  I am sure I will figure something out.  Dr. K wrote me a letter so that Cooper is now my service dog.  This helps quiet my fears that someone will take him away from me.  Cooper is officially my PTSD service dog, which means he doesn't count as a pet in apartments.  It really doesn't make any difference since I have another dog and a cat, but it helps me feel better knowing that no one can take him away, no matter how irrational that fear may be. 

One thing I am excited about is getting an apartment and then finally getting my dogs and my kitty back!  I miss them so much.  

A new friend sent this to me the other day.  I think it's pretty sad and hilarious at the same time.  Fits my situation perfectly:


Friday, March 29, 2013

Interviews and doggy OCD


It was such a nice day today.  Sunny.  No rain.  Warm.  Flowers everywhere.  I went on a long walk but I got super sad there weren't cute little furry butts trotting in front of me.  I miss my dogs so very much.  I'm filled with a ton of anxiety that something is going to happen to them.  It doesn't help that my ex keeps calling me and telling me that they are hurt and she doesn't know what to do.  It's usually relatively minor things like cuts and my cat got an infection that needed antibiotics, but the way she presents it with tears and her own anxiety fuels my irrational fears.  Every time I see her number pop up on my phone I panic a little that she's calling to tell me someone is hurt or died.  

My lab has a little bit of OCD (of course I choose the OCD dog) and he licks his legs raw when he's feeling stressed or anxious.  He's begun to do that again which makes me sad.  I hope he's not doing it because he's separated from me.  If he could, I think Cooper would choose to be permanently attached to my skin.  My ex wrapped his leg up with vet wrap a little too tight and now his foot is raw and swollen.  She called me crying about it.  Despite my own anxiety I calmed her and told her he's okay and he's a lucky dog, but honestly I feel like crying now.  I'm so worried.  It's like I always end up sucking in all of her anxiety and bad feelings, so she feels better after, but I feel awful.  I just need my dogs back.  They are an important part of my life and mental health.  

Walking in the warm sunshine made me feel good.  I think I better invest in one of those "happy lights" if I'm going to stay in this part of the country.  I went on a long, slowish stroll around my friends' neighborhood.  There were flowers and plants blooming everywhere.  Little squirrels and cute tiny finches hoping around the ground.  I decided to turn back when this guy started following me and belting out "Indian" chants.  He was clearly trying to scare me.  He even asked me if I was scared.  I said no, because I wanted the answer to be no.  But my heart was pounding.  And it pissed me off.  I ducked into a nearby store and waited for him to find something else to do before I came out.  I walked home feeling really upset with myself that I was so needlessly scared and still having a hard time returning to a normal.  I took a klonopin when I got to my friends' house.  

I am feeling excited and hopeful for this new job possibility.  I had a phone interview on Wednesday for a job working with kids.  I interviewed on the phone for one position, but they asked me if I would interview for a job working with young adults about to age out of foster care.  I'm thrilled.  My interview is in person on Monday.  I was so nervous for my phone interview yesterday.  My anxiety was extremely high as I waited for the phone to ring.  I literally sat at a chair, at a desk, staring at my phone on the table for twenty minutes (she was a little late calling me).  I thought about taking a klonopin, but I didn't want my brain to be sedated during an interview.  It wasn't an easy interview at all, but I was very confident and passionate about the subject matter (children and foster care).  The interview went very well.  I feel very good about it.  After I hung up I had a panic attack, but it was a weird panic attack with mixed energy.  It surprised me actually.  And then I had a hard time regulating my anxiety for the rest of the day.  I hate being so crazy.  

I really hope I get this job on Monday.  It doesn't pay that well, but it does offer full benefits.  I really want...  No I need to get an apartment so I can have my dogs and cat back, and start my life.  I really need this job.  Please please please hire me.  I would be so good at this job. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Interviews, my Homocidal Sister, and Too Much Acid.

I have a phone interview tomorrow.  I'm so nervous.  I've never had a job interview on the phone before.  It's for a night job at a group home, but that's okay.  I'm awake most nights anyway. 

I've been feeling a little sad lately.  Missing friends and other people I care about.  It just sucks that so many people turn their backs on me so often.  Why am I so easy to leave behind?  It just sucks.  People suck.

I'm stressed about the job and the medical bills.  I sent out my application for financial assistance to the hospital today, so I hope they approve it.  They want a lot of information that I can't really provide, like 12 months of pay stubs.  All of my stuff is in my friend's storage unit a thousand miles away.  I sent them what I could.  I've called my counselor at the hospital twice and he has not returned my calls.  That freaks me out a little.  My one week stay in the hospital, two ER visits, and three surgeries are going to be somewhere near $100,000, according to my counselor.  I haven't received most of the bills yet. 

My sister isn't doing so well these days.  I picked her up and helped her do some errands and shopping today.  She smelled so bad.  She hasn't showered in probably a week, at least.  She believes there are worms living on her head and has been putting diaper rash cream in her hair.  I did my best to try to convince her to shower.  She has been drinking every single night since I moved up here.  It's really worrying me.  She has mentioned that she's had some homicidal thoughts lately and that freaks me out beyond belief.  I do not know what to do for her.  I know she'll never act on those thoughts.  She's very docile and reserved, but it's scary to know that she's been having those thoughts.  She thinks people are out to get her all the time.  Everything is some sort of sinister conspiracy.

I have not been feeling all that well physically.  I've been waking up in the middle of the night really nauseous.  Last night I woke up throwing up.  There was no warning at all.  I suddenly sat up at like three in the morning and threw up all over my lap and bed.  I had to clean it up, strip the air mattress and wash my sheets in the middle of the night.  It was awful.  The other night I felt very close to throwing up.  I'm eating pretty healthy.  Other than the grilled cheese I had in the hospital, and a couple croissants here and there, everything I've eaten has been vegan since I started staying with my vegan friends.  And I am not eating that much fat either.  Once I ate a veggie sandwich with pesto on it and felt so sick for like two days, so I'm trying my best to avoid super fatty foods.  However, I did eat a tiny bit of peanut butter with jelly the other day and was just fine.  Ugh.  It's so frustrating.  I feel so hungry at times, but I'm really afraid to eat.  I end up avoiding food as long as possible and then feeling so ravenous by the time I do eat, that I eat until I'm stuffed.  This, I am sure, isn't helping my problem.  I think I'm feeling so sick at night from acid reflux or something.  I've never had acid reflux before.  I've never even had heartburn before, so I'm really just guessing.  It's just a different kind of acidic nausea feeling.  I don't know who to call about this because I still don't have medical insurance and I don't have a doctor.  I guess I could call the surgeon.  I hope someone hires me and I'm able to get medical coverage soon.  There really isn't much in terms of free health clinics out here. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

What do I do?

I hate being so reliant on people.  I feel like such a leech.  I know I've got to be in the way of my friends and have way overstayed my welcome.  Not only that, but I ended up needing someone to take care of me because I got sick.  I can't find a job and feel like such a freaking loser.  I've been looking into housing assistance, but I don't think I qualify for anything.  I'm also really terrified of having to live with certain types of mentally ill people.  Fighting, yelling, any kind of violence or anger, knowing people don't like me flips an off switch in my brain.  I mean literally.  I shut down and become pretty useless.  I saw a social worker at the hospital a couple weeks ago, but the only thing she did was hand me the Classifieds section from the local newspaper. 

I'm way too old to still be struggling this much.  I'm too old to have someone taking care of me.  I'm too old to be this much of a burden on my friends.  It's like I just aged out of foster care, except there isn't a college dorm room in my future.  Why can't I find a job and take care of myself?  I'm really freaking out about it today. I am such a loser. 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Doggy birthday and medical bills

Today was my dogs 7th birthday.  I miss him so much.  I know it's kind of pathetic, but I cried because I miss him today.  I have never been away from him for this long in the almost seven years that I've had him.  I have this nagging anxiety that something is going to happen to him or my other pets before I can get them back--that maybe I won't ever see them again.  I know it's irrational anxiety, but sometimes it's really hard for me not to ruminate on those thoughts.  I end up needing to take Klonopin or something to calm down.  I would just have a glass of wine, but I am not supposed to drink alcohol for a while because my liver is still healing.

I am still not able to find a job and I really have no idea why.  My resume looks pretty good.  I've had many friends help me fix it up.  I write cover letters for each job I apply for.  I have good references.  I'm not sure what else to do.  I guess I need to open up my job search to many different states.  I really want to stay here in my current city.  I'm so tired of moving and I like it here.  I like the people, the trees, the quirkiness.  I don't want to move anymore.  I want to find "home" somewhere soon and stay for a while.  I am feeling pretty lonely though.  My friends I am staying with are awesome amazing people, but I really miss my friends in Los Angeles.  I miss Dr. K.  My pets.  My markers and paint.  My garden.  I miss the sun a little bit too.  

Medical bills have started to arrive at my friend's house.  Did you know that 40 minutes of anesthesia is $900?  And that's only for one procedure.  I had three.  My first ER visit was $3000, but the ultrasound was only $105, which I find interesting because I think UCLA charged my insurance ten times that last time I had one.  I'm very interested in how much medical services cost.  Interested, but terrified.  It's weird how I'm getting a bunch of bills instead of just one giant one.  And my bills are coming from the North East side of the country, which is weird.  The hospital I went to is only about a mile away from my friends house, yet the bills come from thousands of miles away.

Physically, I am feeling much better.  Other than being a little sore if I move a certain way or bend too fast, I am almost pain free.  No more horrible pain and vomiting.  I am having some digestion issues, but I ordered some bile salts and other supplements that will hopefully help with all of that.  I'd rather deal with this discomfort than the extreme pain, pancreatitis, and liver infections that comes from gallbladder disease. 

I saw my surgeon on Thursday.  She took my blood pressure and asked me if I was anxious because it was a little high.  It was 110/75 when she took it at the end of the visit, so I guess maybe I was anxious.  Having people touch my body freaks me out.  She lifted up my shirt, pushed on my belly a little bit and told me that everything looks good.  The blisters surrounding my incisions were because I am allergic to surgical tape.  She wrote it in my chart and told me to tell them I am allergic "next time."  Gosh, I hope there isn't a next time for surgery.  She said that I was in so much pain after surgery because of my pancreatitis and liver failure.  She also said that my gallbladder had a ton of tiny little stones it.  It was kind of like a hacky sack.  That means that I would have continued to get attacks and infections and that there was nothing I could have done to prevent the need for surgery.  It was comforting to hear this because I really didn't want surgery for a long time because I thought I could find some alternative way to treating it without removing my organ.  It's amazing how much better I feel.  It hasn't even been two weeks since I had surgery yet and there is almost no pain and all I have are four little cuts on my stomach.  It's hard to believe they removed an organ through one of them.   

Monday, March 18, 2013

I'm finally up and about

Once I was admitted to the hospital, I was taken to the radiology unit.  I'm not sure why.  Perhaps that's just where they had an open bed.  I had my own room which was nice.  The majority of the patients in the unit were elderly and required a lot of care.  I kept hearing them tell this elderly man in the room next to me not to take his clothes off in the hallway.  "You're not at home Bill, you have to keep your clothes on."  I'm not sure why he spent so much time out of his room, but he seemed to have some mental decline issues.  I however, found him hilarious and charming.  Every time I saw him in the hallway when they were taking me to or from a procedure, he would tell he I looked pretty in my dress (huge hospital gown).  I have no idea if he was joking or not, but it made me giggle nonetheless. 

I was in the hospital for six days, not including the 18 hours I spent in the ER between Wednesday and Thursday.  I was admitted because my liver and pancreas were starting to fail because I had stones stuck in my bile ducts infecting both organs.  Surgery was no longer an option, but a necessity.  
I was unable to eat or drink for the majority of my stay there.  On Friday I had a procedure called an Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) which means they put some tools and a camera down my throat, through my stomach and then it snaked back up through my bile ducts in my liver and pancreas. They inflated little balloons in my bile ducts and made slits in them so that the stones and blockages could pass.  My gastro doctor who performed the ERCP was super nice and funny.  He drew pictures and was so animated about everything, even acting out my angry liver.  He apologized that he wasn't able to give me my blocked stones or catch images of them as souvenirs.  Eww.  I was fine with that.  He was so down to Earth and competent at the same time.  Not at all like the doctors I've seen in Los Angeles.  My surgeon was nice too, but she was a little less social.  She did take the time to talk to me a few times and explain everything to me before the surgery.

The ERCP was strange.  The first time they took me to the Xray room.  They had my lay on my stomach, put a sticker thing on my butt, a round thing in my mouth with a rubber band that went around my head holding it in place to protect my teeth and hold my mouth open I supposed.  They put something in my IV and the next thing I remember is being wheeled back to my room.  My gastro doc told me that the procedure failed because I kept waking up and "trying to help them."  I'm sure he meant I kept trying to pull the tubes out of my throat.  They kept giving me more of the sedation medication but my metabolism kept burning through it too fast and it became too dangerous for them to have sharp knives inside my vital organs that I was yanking on.  As soon as I began to wake up (literally five or ten minutes), I was wheeled back down down to the OR to be put under again.  Everything was basically repeated like before.  Laid on my stomach.  They put something on my butt, put oxygen in my nose, tube thing in my mouth, but I had to sit in this funny foam thing.  I was knocked out and then woke up puking and in pain.  My throat and gallbladder type pain were killing me.  They gave me strong drugs and wheeled me back to my room.  The first surgery started at 12:30, and I got back to my room the second time around 7:30 pm.  Yikes. 

A few hours later, I felt so much better.  My throat hurt, I felt a little sore and bloated, but that constant extreme pain in my upper right abdomen was almost gone.  They let me eat veggie broth and juice for the first time in close to three days without any sort of food or water, other than an IV.

They decided not to do my gallbladder surgery on the same day like they originally told me because my liver and pancreas were not doing well enough to handle that much stress at once.  They wanted to monitor my liver and pancreas over the weekend, which they did.  They took my blood every four hours from Thursday-Tuesday.  My arms look like I am a hardcore drug addicted.  They could only take blood from the arm that did not have an IV, so my right arm had a pretty long line of "track marks.".  It's a good thing I wear long sleeves anyway.

The lab techs who drew my blood kept complimenting me on my veins.  It's such a weird thing to be complimented on.  I really think I just have "such nice veins" because I'm so fair skinned I'm almost see through.  One creepy thing that happened during my stay in the hospital was my IV failed and the entire bag of IV fluid went into my arm.  I woke up and noticed that my hospital bracelet was super tight.  Then I noticed that my arm was like five times fatter than normal.  I freaked out.  Tell me my liver and pancreas are in danger, and I'm totally fine.  Accidentally fill my arm full of harmless IV fluids and I freak out.  Actually I wasn't aware that it was harmless and just because my IV failed.  I thought maybe it was a symptom of a surgical complication or something.  It was also after my gallbladder surgery, so I was also in a lot of pain and on a lot of drugs.  My arm is normal sized now.  :-)

I had my gallbladder removed on Monday.  I was expecting the experience to be similar to the ERCP, but I was wrong.  They wheeled me down to "short stay" where I had a nurse check my iv and make sure I wasn't wearing anything but a hospital gown.  He made me take off my underwear and put on these weird disposable hospital underwear instead.

The experience of going into the OR was different this time.  No one was really talking to me, but  everyone around me was so busy.  People were strapping me down, lifting up my gown, totally exposing me.  I'm glad the doctor gave me a sedative in my iv before all of this happened because it was very stressful listening to these people talk about you like you weren't there, and talk about cutting into your body as they strapped you down onto a table.  My legs were strapped straight onto the table.  They put on these boots that massaged my legs.  Those things were really awesome.  I wish I was able to take them home.  My arms were spread out on these extensions from the table.  I remember them talking to me right before I passed out, but I don't remember what they said.

The last thing I remember is them putting on oxygen mask on my face and then waking up in the recovery room.  This time I was in extreme pain.  I was so sick but afraid to throw up because of the pain.  I had to cough because there was a breathing tube put in my throat and they made me cough even though I felt like I would rip open if I did.  The nurses in the recovery area are not very sensitive or nice.  I understand that they deal with people just waking up from surgery in pain all day, but they were so forceful and "rough" with me.  I was breathing really hard from pain, and making a grimace face and my nurse said, "You need to take a chill pill."  I said, "Do you have one?"  The calmer I got, the nicer she got, but I would have responded better to someone explaining to me where I was, and why I was in so much pain, rather than barking at me right away.  I woke up, scared, confused, and in a ton of pain.  Anyway, she kept giving me pain and nausea meds.  I was getting more upset by the way the nurses were talking to the woman next to me who was kind of hysterical.  She was upsetting me too, but the scolding tones of the nurses were triggering for me.  I was just glad that I know how to suffer quietly.

Suddenly the nurse tells me in a forceful voice,

"You need to take a very deep breath.  Lets go.  In....out....  I don't think you are trying.  Take a deep breath in."

Something starts beeping and other nurses come and start doing stuff to me.  One nurse starts rubbing my arms and stuff.  I think I passed out again.  She turned the pressure on my leg massaging boots up.  Then they put me on oxygen which was on so high that I felt like I might choke on it.  Whatever was happening seemed to stop once they hooked me up to oxygen and I passed out.

I spent the rest of the day in pain, on oxygen, with my legs being massaged by these boot things.  I had an alarm on my bed so I couldn't get out of bed by myself.  I found that so very triggering.  I don't know why.  Every time I had to pee, I had to call for help.  The nurses wanted to help me do everything in the bathroom and I was so uncomfortable about that.  I  was okay with them helping me get to the bathroom and helping me get back to bed, but not with anything else.  After some tears and compromise, I let them sit me on the toilet, and then leave the bathroom, I was able to do everything else myself.  I began to loathe my bladder because first, I would have call a nurse and tell her that I had to pee.  Then she'd have to unhook me from a ton of equipment--the leg compression, the oxygen, my IV, sitting up was so painful and I was so dizzy.  I'd go through all of that, then get connected to everything all over again. 

Then I would sleep, except for the nurses checking my vitals every hour.  I got IV pain meds every two hours, but they didn't seem to be helping much.  I felt better the next morning, but still in a lot of pain.  I feel like so many people minimized this surgery.  Everyone kept saying how this was not that big of a deal so I wasn't quite prepared for the amount of pain I was actually in.  I went home Tuesday night at my own request because I didn't feel like I needed to be in hospital anymore.  My nurse actually wanted me to stay one more night, but I didn't see what the point was.  My friends picked me up, got my meds, and took me home.  They have been so good to me.  They plopped me down the the reclining sofa and did not let me get up from it except to use the bathroom or to eat.  I feel very cared about.  I do need to get my own place though.  My friend told me that I am a very unobtrusive guest and that I can stay as long as I want, but I would feel so much better about myself and can stop feeling so guilty once I get my own place. 

I've been taking percocet and an acid medication since I left the hospital.  Percocet makes me kind of stupid.  I am moving and feeling a lot better today, but a few days ago, I was having a hard time changing my clothes.  It took me a really long time.  I had to hobble outside and into my friend's studio where I've been staying before the hospital. I changed my shirt and sweater, got out of my pants, put on some new socks and underwear. This all felt like I was running a marathon, heaving breathing, spinning head and all. When I was finished, I hobbled back outside toward the house. It wasn't until I was unlocking the door that I realized I didn't put any pants on!  I'm glad there wasn't anyone around to see me.  At least I hope no one saw me.   

I'm doing much better today.  I went out and did stuff for the first time today.  I'm still very tired all the time.  It's a bit frustrating.  I didn't take any percocet yet today because the pain isn't so bad anymore, but eating is still pretty hard for me.  I can't eat very much in one sitting, and it feels like I am not digesting my food very well or very fast.  I'm still really full from lunch six hours ago and I was only able to eat 1/3 of my meal.  I'm sure my body just needs to figure out how to digest food differently now.  It's only been a week, so I keep telling myself I need to be patient.  I've developed these weird blisters all around my surgical tape.  I called the doctor and the receptionist took a message, but she hasn't called me back yet.  I think I am probably just allergic to the surgical tape since I got a big rash on my arms from the tape they used after drawing blood and for my IVs.  They don't hurt or anything.  They just look like little chickenpox blisters.  I see my surgeon again on Thursday.

I have to apply for financial assistance with the hospital.  The counselor they assigned me wants me to get letters from the people I've stayed with stating that I'm basically "couch surfing" and living off the kindness of others.  He also wants me to apply for food stamps and submit my W2's from the last two years of taxes.  All my tax papers are in a box in a storage unit in LA.  I feel like such a loser, but my hospital bill is going to be somewhere between 70-100k according to my counselor , so I have to do what I have to do. 

Thank you everyone for your support and encouragement through this!