If you’re the prayin’ type…

3-27-14     10:30pm

I feel like I should be typing on a typewriter. The sound of the keystrokes is more fulfilling.

It’s 10:30pm, still an hour and a half in the day. I hope it is dull. I woke up in a terrible funk. A curl-up-on-the-couch-and-stare-afraid-to-move-no-thoughts-unable-to-do-anything funk. I managed to scribble a few words on the page. After a few hours I ate, turned some music on. I dragged myself out the door, despite the paranoia telling me I couldn’t go, that they were watching me and they’d find out. I didn’t want to go to choir. I needed someone to help me. But my mom was asleep and I couldn’t ask. I thought of calling my therapist or my doctor but my words were slipping away and I couldn’t explain it, didn’t know what to ask for or from whom. So I went to Staples. I figured binder shopping on rewards couldn’t hurt. I was able to drive safely. I was astonished. I figured I’d swing by Starbucks for a banana and a cup of hot water to warm my throat so I wouldn’t crack while singing my solo in choir.

This should be a simple thing – getting a cup of hot water from Starbucks. I had finally made it to a semi-stable place and calmed myself into being able to wait 15 fucking minutes in line, pushing me late for choir. When I got to the register the woman told me they no longer serve hot water there. What? She claimed that one of the partners got burned and it was a liability and that some people bring their own stuff to put in the water. ??? I just stared at her. I asked if I could order something else on the menu minus everything but the water. She said sure. She asked what I’d like. I asked what on the menu has water in it. She said if she did it for me she’d have to do it for everyone and glared at me. My emotion was at a 10. It took EVERYTHING in me just to stand there and not move, not make a sound. I put the banana down, put my hand up and said, “I can’t do this,” and walked away. I was to the car by the time I realized I could have ordered tea with the tea on the side. Not that I drink tea. I would have paid $10 for a damn cup of fucking water. What she said made no sense. And was rude. And was just beyond what I could tolerate.

I sat in the car not moving, barely breathing for several minutes. Couldn’t scream. Couldn’t talk. Needed to die RIGHT THEN. I kept seeing myself stabbing me in the stomach with the ice pick my mom used to own but now doesn’t remember. The urge was SO intense. I didn’t move. Cuz seriously, I don’t need to be driving like that. I was pissed when I remembered I’d agreed to live 6 months for the DBT program. Fuck. When is that up? Eventually I started driving. I had the urge to admit myself to Grossmont as I passed by. Air 1 helped. I couldn’t figure out how to get to the college from the mall. The freeways were all twisted and I kept missing the off-ramp, driving in circles. I was so mad. I wanted to quit altogether but I thought choir might help me feel better. I made it to the school, paid for parking, got a big hug from Derek. Much needed. Sat next to Karen. I told her I was a 1/7.5 on the mood chart. She got it, invited me to a movie this afternoon. Singing was much needed. Bumped me up to a 4 for about an hour, then I crashed to a staring 2 for awhile. The movie brought me back up. Honestly, the best film I’ve seen in quite some time. I needed the feel of home. It’s Kind of a Funny Story. After the movie we went to dinner. Then I skipped choir, hit Walmart, and crashed again on the way home.

I’ve been crashing a lot. I’m concerned. My doctor says I need to cut back on what I’m doing but I don’t know how. I know if I don’t I’ll only get worse. I don’t know how. I wake up in the morning when my alarm turns off, not when it comes on. I need express instructions. I am tired during the day and my back is spasming and locking up on me. My head pain has returned and my blood pressure has dropped markedly. I can’t concentrate. I don’t write. I can’t think. When I come home at night I shovel M&Ms into my mouth (literally a giant bag every night) and fall asleep on the couch on or around 9pm. My mom wakes me up and I go to bed. There are all these positive opportunities for me right now. I even just had a great weekend at Possum Trot, which was awesome. I don’t know what is happening.

So tonight while I was curled up on the couch falling asleep next to my almost empty bag of M&Ms I heard my mom shouting into the phone. It seems my sister-in-law died unexpectedly this morning in my brother’s arms. What? Right. I know. Where the Hell did that come from? I got up and came in the kitchen to read the post-it note she was scribbling on. I would have known this sooner if I’d checked Facebook today but I didn’t. Lovely. My mom told him he shouldn’t be angry at God. Actually, IT’S OK. Not that she’s dead but that he’s angry. I don’t understand. And I don’t have to. I just have to go. After an errand in the morning, my mom and I will go up there. Crisis is a good distraction but why death? He was finally happy. I don’t understand.

I’m tired. I am tired. I will go tomorrow and do whatever is needed. Greg is family. MY family. I pray this brings the family closer instead of pulling them apart. I hope my brother can hold on. I love him dearly. I also hope my staring, body-crashing episodes are paused for the duration of this crisis. They are not needed. I should tell my people. I should also sleep. It will be a long day.

Thanks for reading, listening. I know I haven’t been posting. I write things that just never make it here. It’s been a bumpy ride. Please keep my family in your prayers if you’re the prayin’ type. Thanks.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2014

One freakout at a time

2-6-14     9:57am

I’m feeling really nervous. Too much awake time before the day starts. I started a really cool project last month. I think it’s God’s project because it wasn’t my thought before it fell out of my mouth, but I’m so nervous to do it. I got the approval a few days ago so it’s actually real now. I don’t want to fuck up or do it wrong or bring shame to me or my organization. I sound Asian. I know that’s racist. I don’t care. I want to do GOOD. I want to stay with the mindset I recently named Eyes. We are dynamic. But right now we are freaked out. I need an easy task to do. How I hate the smell of dog food. Do you think skies will mend?

To do this well I will need support and major organization. Let’s do it!

PS – I got cable in my room yesterday. I don’t think that’s a good thing.

PPS (5 minutes later) – I think my freakout is being exacerbated by thinking about another project I agreed to last week. While I was peeing I realized that it’s a lot bigger than I ‘d thought. Crap. One freakout at a time, people. ONE at a time. (series of zaps)

© Michelle Routhieaux

Let the Monsters Go

1/24/2014     10am

I’m holding onto some monsters,
and they’re eating inside me.
They burn my flesh and rot my food.
They wear barbed wire and twirl.

The monsters eat my words.
They have the power to stop my body.
Fuzzy little pricks they are.
But the monsters want me.

They scream at me but they’re here.
They’ve become my family.
I am full of holes that folks will see when they are gone.
I am torn & damaged.
The monsters are eating me.

What will I have without them,
if I ever let go?
Who is me that the monsters are eating?

© Michelle Routhieaux 2014

Words from the Couch

1-4-14     10:17pm

It’s Saturday night. I’m sitting on the couch in mismatched pajamas, paying bills more slowly than usual and half-watching “Modern Family.” I hate that show but it’s on so often that they feel like family. Damn family.

Today I woke up early. I delivered a payment, took some returns, drank a strawberry papaya smoothie – oddly tasty. I can’t think. Damn tv. I used up all my energy. I’ve been sick for the past week with a nasty cold – hyped up on Sudafed 12 hour, Umka fast-actives, glucose tablets and chocolate. Literally the walking the dead. My thoughts are fragmented and I’ve been dissociating more. In fact, on Monday my new therapist almost didn’t let me leave. I thought I was getting better from this cold thing until today when I was almost falling over in Target from physical exhaustion in a cold sweat and nauseous all day with no interest in food. I actually chose to eat a zucchini and half a can of corn for dinner. (switch off the tv) Odd. I think I’m getting the flu. Thing is I don’t really care. My body has shut my mind down and, aside from a small burst of activity today, I’m content to lie on the couch and stare. I feel like it’s 4 in the morning and it’s only 10 o’clock.

I feel sad. Like I will never accomplish all the things around me because I’m too tired and I don’t have it in me. I’ve been thinking on and off recently that I want to go back to school. I doubt that will happen unless I figure out how to read again. For several years now I’ve been unable to read more than about a paragraph without getting nauseous, dizzy and having a bad headache. I contacted a lady in town who screens for Irlen Syndrome and provides overlays. She also does neurotherapy (not sure what that is) to help people with learning or reading issues succeed. Of course, her work is not covered by insurance and the cheapest option is just the screening for $195. A full assessment is $500 plus $250 for every following visit and she doesn’t take credit cards. For some reason she thought it was a steal that if you pay for 10 sessions up front they’re only $200 each. Right. Let me sell my left leg. Is it worth it? I’d give almost anything to be able to read again, to soar off into faraway lands, to create characters in my head, to do school. I just don’t have $195 to throw away for another non-answer. I wish I did.

I really want to pay off my debt. I know that will take a million years but I still want to. I so desire to be free from this mess. (freeze…) I work it out in my head and on paper. I come up with plan after plan. I pay it all down and then I spend again. It’s like the two halfs of my brain aren’t connected. I WANT TO BE FREE. I want to be me. I need to pay the credit union a visit and talk to them again about a debt consolidation loan. I think I figured out how to meet their demands and my own.

I’m tired. I’m sick. I’m not thinking right. I want to write but every time I try I fall asleep or I feel too scared and I close the book. Right now I have time, just not the brain. There are a few posts written in my journal. Most days I forget them. Other days I can’t find them. Today is the first day in months that I felt an emotion, opened the book, and wrote. Praise God.

The dog is laying on my foot (yes, I have a dog now) and I’m so tired that my eyes are watering. Christmas is still alive and well in my house until Don gets back. Hopefully that will be soon. I’m helping my mom a little with her room. It’s going better than I thought. A practice in acceptance and non-judgemental stance. My new DBT group is going well at Applied. I’m so tired… I would like the soothingness of walking in circles but I’m too tired. (stare…)

PS – I watched “Pulp Fiction” today for the first time on Amazon Prime. Good movie.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2014

Fuck Savings Bonds

1-4-13     2:20pm

Savings bonds are evil. My mom finally found mine from grade school. I thought for sure they would have matured since it’s been awhile. Nope. These don’t mature until 2028. 2028! What the fuck?! Seriously? Why would someone gift these to me or present them with awards? It’s a scam, I tell ya. Why does the government need to borrow our money anyway? Fuck. Stupid damn savings bonds. NO soup for you.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2014

Man up, people

12/22/2013     10:22pm

I am SO frustrated by people complaining about the new healthcare mandate. Oh, poor you, now you have to pay for insurance and you think it’s SO expensive. Um, reality check. It’s no more expensive than it’s ever been. You just haven’t taken the time to learn about it, to care. Then you end up in the ER and want charity care for the tens of thousands of dollars of work you had done when you were there. Seriously? I hear employers lying to their people that Obamacare is the reason they chose to give their employees shitty insurance with higher deductibles and less coverage. It’s not true. I know people who want perfect doctors and miracle treatments for free even though they have money. They have thousands of dollars in medical debt in collections. They just see different doctors and move on. IT MAKES ME MAD. Man up, people. Be responsible. Take care of yourself. Learn the facts. Choose wisely. THEN feel free to bitch around me about your terrible healthcare plans and how they’ll keep you alive.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2013

Help Me Give Back

11-30-13     9:57pm

PicMonkey Collage2

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what I’m thankful for and DBSA is on my mind. DBSA San Diego is an org that provides free support groups for people with mood disorders like me. I’ve been with DBSA San Diego continuously since 2006, with a short stint also in 2004. There I found family. The group members get me. We help each other. I always have a place to go. I also have a place to grow.

My outreach work with DBSA is one of the best parts of my life. I have the opportunity to promote the group, to educate the public about mental illness and to connect services and create projects I couldn’t elsewhere. I give a lot in volunteer service to DBSA, but I want to give more and I want to get others to help.

When it comes down to it, DBSA San Diego needs money to provide our free services, and most of our money comes through donations. So, I figured I’d reach out to my people and see if anyone is interested in giving. Any amount helps. I’m particularly interested in getting people to sign up for monthly auto-giving through the Network for Good. I don’t expect people to give $40 a month, but $10 is certainly do-able. It’s the equivalent of 2 drinks at Starbucks or one meal at Chipotle. Think about it. Every penny counts. Go! :)

Ways to Help or Donate:

  • Share this post!
  • Donate by credit card on the Network for Good – one time donation or monthly
  • Donate through Square ($5 poetry book or $15 dvd – not tax deductible)
  • Mail a check made out to DBSA San Diego to PO Box 12774, La Jolla, CA 92019
  • Bring cash to a meeting

For a donation of $5 or more on Square, we can send you “Different Voices,” a book of poetry about mental illness by one of our members Jay Mower.

For a donation of $15 or more on Square, we can send you “The Misunderstood Epidemic: Depression,” a dvd about depression produced by one of our members and about several more.

Extra perk (on top of the warm and fuzzy feeling you get from giving) – Donations are tax-deductible! Yay!

It’s been a long time since I sent a fundraising plea. I haven’t really thought this through much. I just know that DBSA has saved my life, given me meaning and hope. DBSA is amazing. Please help me out by paying it forward.

Thanks,
Michelle :)

© Michelle Routhieaux 2013

Are you the pumpkin man?

11-29-13     11pm

Well, I feel tonight. Jumbled words in my mind let go with the music. A moment just to stop.

I watched the hall empty, mesmerized, listening to the sounds, taking it in. Streisand-man is annoying. Otherwise a wonderful night. Even the food was good.

The anxiety is trying to escape me but it’s stuck inside my body. Tweet tweet goes the bird dog. Scream. I said SCREAM. (scream)

(deep breath)

Parked in Old Town.
I miss my mom.
Want to run away.
Or just run.
I don’t know why.

Feed the toilet.
Arms not right.

Are you the pumpkin man?

Where am I?
Take me home.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2013

I wish it was Tuesday

11/28/2013     10:29pm

Dear God,

I wish it was Tuesday. My voice is stuck inside me and nothing reaches the page.

I’m sitting in the car outside Mesa Vista. Light from Cog lights my page. I feel myself falling in slow motion, like a feather through Jello. Life moves quickly around me. I feel lifeless. Can’t move. Can’t stop. Another holiday out of touch. I need to catch this one early.

December is coming. Tomorrow’s Black Friday. I’m about to break. Double on Wednesday. I need so badly to be held. God? What are you training me for? What do you need me for now? I need you. I need a lot of things. I don’t want to end up back in the hospital and that’s the direction I’m headed.

Red flags

  • Self-harm
  • Dissociation (more frequent & intense)
  • Desperation/Agitation cycle
  • Nightly dreaming
  • No interest in food (ED + decreased appetite)
  • Increase in blood pressure
  • Episodes of tachycardia
  • Weak/Dizzy
  • Depersonalization
  • Derealization
  • Really out of it
  • Increase in switching
  • Intense need to be held
  • Confusion
  • Decrease in personal hygeine
  • Severe fatigue
  • Rocking
  • Racing thoughts or no thoughts
  • Feel my face hanging, heavy
  • Late frequently
  • Anhedonia
  • Can’t complete tasks
  • Catastrophize more often
  • Don’t care about my appearance
  • Not feeding animals
  • Sleeping in makes me feel worse
  • Soul-crushing depression
  • I just watch from behind the glass

Coping Skills I’m Using

  • Day list (when I remember)
  • Walking Ellie
  • Sticking to a schedule
  • Eating nut bars
  • Deep breathing
  • Singing
  • Watching NCIS
  • Decluttering
  • Sensory distraction – light, temperature, sound
  • Scented candles
  • Getting out of the house
  • Eating regularly
  • Rocking
  • Chewing gum
  • Projects

Triggers

  • Driving
  • Mom
  • Too busy – outreach, S, appts
  • No music nights
  • No free/down time
  • Money problems
  • Ankle injury
  • Gluten-free transition
  • -’s episode, -
  • J/M/S drama – trust
  • Brother’s HD
  • DBSA business woes
  • Heartland scuffle on Monday
  • Clogging – Quarternote end, dying, teaching, etc.

What do I need?

  • Modified schedule w/emphasis on self-care
  • Talk to my providers
  • back to Day List
  • Go back to the bus half time
  • Meet with a dietician
  • Go back to Dizzy’s
  • Start writing again
  • Find/schedule more alone time
  • Go back to the gym
  • Schedule garage time
  • Pray

Let go.

  1. Schedule – weekly
  2. Menu

© Michelle Routhieaux 2013

My Christmas Wishlist

11/12/13

Most Christmases I get gifts I don’t like or want or make wishlists of things I want but don’t need and have no place to store. So this year I made a list of things I actually want or need and can’t afford. I am not asking for Christmas gifts from anyone, but if you should feel the need to buy me something here are some ideas. ;)

I don’t have much money to buy gifts for others this year but if there’s something you need, please let me know.

My Christmas Wishlist:

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© Michelle Routhieaux 2013

Making Friends with a Bush

11/2/13     12:18pm

2013-11-01 18.09.53(deep sigh)

I feel nervous. I know I haven’t blogged in forever. Sorry about that. I’ve been so busy and unaware of time or space. I’m barely writing at all. I blame this on driving. And partially on the fact that my brain is turned off.

Yesterday my brakes went out on the freeway. I know that God was there. A few moments before I switched into dissociative or crisis mode for no apparent reason. I was listening to my friend apply a DEESC Script to my current situation. It was afternoon traffic and all of the sudden my brake pedal no longer worked. I could press it all the way to the floor. No stoppage. The emergency brake also failed. Yet, I didn’t freak out. I swerved to miss one car and then again to steer clear of the car I’d just swerved in front of. I made it to an off-ramp and coasted into a parking lot. I chose a bush to stop the car with. We jumped the curb, I turned off the ignition. We were inside a bush. So I put the car in reverse and let it roll back off the curb and out of the bush, pulling the key out midway. We stopped.

My friend Sue who was with me had no idea what was going on, other than that I had swerved twice and that we were now friends with a bush. The car smelled like something was burning and I told her to get out. The drivers side panel was smashed so the door only slightly opened. The windshield wipers held decorative pieces of bush. I called State Farm and we walked over to the farmer’s market. I’ll tell ya, like a good neighbor State Farm is NOT there. I even tried singing the jingle. Didn’t work. It took 3 hours of call after call after call, being transferred and cut off. Didn’t help that midway through my phone started shutting itself off whenever they put me on hold. Eventually the tow truck got there and took the car away.

I did everything right. I did not freak out or fail to respond to the situation. I kept myself and my passenger safe. I did not hit another car. I stopped the car with relatively minor damage. I called the insurance company and had the car taken to my mechanic. I’m proud of myself. I also kept my friend calm who had 2 panic attacks and was freaking out. My mom, however, is not happy with me because I called the insurance and filed a claim. In that moment, and now, the only thing that seems to matter is that her car insurance rate might go up. I might as well have smashed into something dangerous and been injured to distract her from the money. I wish she could see that my coping was AMAZING. I even continued on with my plans for the night and attended a zumba party at my gym and had dinner with Sue. I didn’t freak out. Now I am exhausted.

Today I feel frustrated because our mechanic says there is nothing wrong with our brakes and he doesn’t know why the car would do that. IT WAS REAL. I WAS THERE. IT HAPPENED. I want the car fixed. I can’t have it do that again. I could’ve really been hurt. But for him the car is fine. My mom told me I should never call the insurance before calling her. I told her she’s the last person I call because she freaks out. I just really need somebody to say, “Damn, girl. You’re fucking awesome. You did a GREAT job. We’ll deal with the car later.” My mom wants to go to the gym now. I just want to write.

(eyes closed, head down, deep breath)

I haven’t been writing. My writing time is now taken by driving. All of my story is in me, mixing itself up. I joined an adherent DBT program and got a new therapist. We’re laying all my issues out there and it’s freaking me out. I need about an hour of down time after I see her before I can leave. I want a better life. I want to feel good, be independent, free. But I’m scared of dealing with my issues. All those scary things tucked away in neat yellow boxes tied with a ribbon on the back wall of my life. I don’t open them for a reason. Now they’re all in a pile on the floor and I’m freaking out. Do I want to change? Can I tolerate it? I don’t know. I think I trust her but I need to teach her about me. And communicate. I am in an almost constant state of fear lately. Except when faced with a crisis. Oddly enough I wrote the other day that I need the calm of a crisis. Well, I got it. Now I need to run away.

I gotta go. My mom wants to go to the gym and I’m trying to promote her exercising. I’m so tired, physically and spiritually. I’m singing a duet in church tomorrow that I haven’t practiced. I’m excited. It is “Pie Jesu.” Lord, grant them rest. Lord, grant me rest. I have the appropriate feeling state for the song. Now I need to sing it.

Thank you, God, for keeping me safe. And thank you to whomever is reading this. I really appreciate you.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2013

CRV

9-13-13     1:57pm

I am thoroughly dismayed with the California Redemption Value system. I went out of my way today to go to RePlanet to get the actual amount due to me per item, but they don’t accept crushed/smashed cans or bottles. Really? They’d prefer to smash them personally. I paid the CRV. I want it back. Is it really that difficult? Do other states also steal your money for recycling?

© Michelle Routhieaux 2013

Time to be me

9-16-13     9:32am

I’m tired. And I’m having money problems. Second month in a row. (sigh) No doubt due to the fact that I can’t think and I’m spending money without remembering. My house is dirty. Literally. There is cat poop in the tub, dirt on the floor, dishes piled up, papers and blankets everywhere. Not due to my mom at all. Usually when she goes out of town the house slowly looks wonderful. This time it’s looking more like my dorm room close to the end at USC. I don’t know what to do. My calendar is chock full. I need rest.

I have an assessment today to join an outpatient DBT group. I really just want a nap. And to wake up to a magically clean house. I am tempted to ask for help with my home from my FB or group friends. I just haven’t. I don’t want to be in this situation. I feel like a hypocrite – the one

(stupid fucking blender refuses to work)

- who helps others learn to clean and organize but has fallen to ruin herself. I need help. I need God.

I feel the need to cancel everything on my calendar this week. It doesn’t seem possible. I need the Comfort Drive stuff OUT of my living room. I love the drive, love the movement. I need it gone. It is a wall, a literal wall. I feel like my eyes are melting. My doctor thinks maybe I’m falling apart because I’m on birth control. I don’t care why I’m disintegrating. I just need it to stop. I need. Please. Please.

(quiet)

I bought new lamps yesterday. They make me feel grounded. A miracle is happening here. The lady in the mirror is different. She is catty and brilliant. I have not seen her in years. Just breathe. It’s time to meet 15, hold her hand, bring her closer.Teach her how to live healthfully. Bring her out of shame.

I am sleepy. I need food. I need to go shopping.

I need the boxes out of my living room.
Time to be me.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2013

Incubation vs Hibernation

9-3-13     2:22pm

I was thinking about my life today while driving to Eastlake for a pickup. My doctor says I’m making so much progress, that he knew I had potential but never expected me to come this far. But where am I? Where am I going?

I’m not headed in any particular direction. It’s a day to day struggle to stay alive. I’m not in school pursuing a career. I don’t have a husband or kids. I’m floating, stagnant, goal-less. Well, I do have 2 goals but I’m not doing very well on them. I’m temped to starve to death or maybe just walk in circles. When I think about it I freak out. (deeep breath) Is this the end of the yellow brick road?

The word incubation came to mind followed by hibernation. I have stopped almost all events and responsibilities. I am tired. But I don’t think I’m hibernating. I am largely motionless but I am being nurtured and growing. This pause in my life is productive. My mind is catching up to me.

I feel very nauseous, head pain, weak.

I am incubating. If I don’t die, I’ll hatch. I will arise into my new life and follow the path wherever God leads me.

I’m scared to leave this place. I’m not moving forward. I am being carried. The angels are around me. My breath…

Incubation is painful like physical therapy. I am stretched and molded and melted, filed and rearranged. My body is trying to kill me. Maybe I need to die to live.

I really feel faint.
I need to lie down.
And see Dr. Collan.

Right now I feel panic like last night. I’m hovering on a subject so painful, raw. I want to go back to USC.

WHY did you take that life from me?
Why even show me or care?

My life is over. I want a new one. I want to die.

FG – If the new life was different but as fulfilling as the old one, would you stick around?

Hell, yeah.
I need. I just don’t know what. 
Jesus.

I’ve walked right out of my shoes. Now I walk on air – off-lifing. Where am I headed, running in circles in an incubator. I’m not ready to leave. But I’m close. I want a better life, to be free. That’s progress. In hibernation I shut down and rest. It rarely involves conscious growth.

I’m helping S- tonight. I’d rather be working on the Comfort Drive. I need to prepare for my mom’s trip and I need someone to help me improve my backing.

I feel overwhelmed but I’m here, incubating. I will be here as long as it takes. God help me.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2013

Since 2009

8/13/13     3:18pm

What’s different now than in ’09 with Marc? I’m embracing the fact that I’m alone. Dr. N taught me that not all people leave and that I can be safe. Jim taught me how to face my fears through ERP instead of cognitive reasoning. DBT gave me a set of skills to use when I’m freaking out that work. I became closer to God and reassessed my priorities and relationships when I thought I was going to die. I started developing a sense of self. Now I am not so desperate and needy. I started developing systems to get me through the day and track my progress. I faithfully attended DBSA both sharing and learning new tools. I surrendered the pain and defined acceptance. I started doing things for me, in particular attending jazz gigs and making friends with non-crazy (or at least non-diagnosed) people. I gave up and found life. My mom is nicer to me now. I rarely scream or freak out or run away. I use assertiveness daily. I don’t take bullshit anymore. My need for an intense attachment to one person has diminished greatly. I feel more safe, supported. I’ve learned and practiced more boundaries. I’ve moved away from the cognitive approach. I stopped going to school. I found a doctor and therapist who meet my needs. I need the hospital less. My HD phase has passed. I am free.

I forgot to tell Dr. N today that I’ve been thinking about school. I want my degree. I think I’m ready. I think I’d like to major in social work. I should try WRAP and PET first both as prerequisites and to see if I could handle it. I think I might. I don’t think I’m ready for full or part-time. Maybe one class at a time. I have scholarship money I need to use…

(walk around)

I stood up for myself when threatened at Scripps. I walked away stronger, determined. I took care of me.

I learned to say no and to say yes. I’m doing much better with change – if you can imagine. I’ve dealt with health issues bigger than me. I’ve been broken and risen up again, not through ashes but rules. I learned how to observe and listen, to practice empathy. I catch myself earlier in the process so I don’t blow. I’m learning to stand on my own.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2013 

Recipe for a Day List

8/18/13     5pm

This is my day list. I use it every day. Today I updated and prettified it. If you’re trying to make one and want customized bullets, use Word instead of Publisher.

Day List 8-18-13

My day list has been so helpful for me. I have memory problems and things an average person would have no problem remembering slip my mind and run away. Like somehow it’s a trap and they finally escape. So awhile back I decided to make myself a list of things I need to do every day to remind me. I put it in a page protector (clear plastic cover) and mark off each thing with a dry erase marker as I do it. I made a space on my wall to hang it last night because I keep losing it. My day list gets me through the day. 

The day list has helped me keep up with self-care when I’m really depressed and make sure I come back to basics when I’m manic or agitated. I find that when I’m doing better I don’t need it as much and when I’m doing exceedingly bad I don’t even remember I have one. Thankfully, my psychiatrist reminds me. 

I feel accomplished when I do everything, which is pretty rare. I am grateful it reminds me what to take with me. I made it. I love it. I’m proud of myself. 

Recipe for making your own day list:

Ingredients – 1 sheet protector, 1 sheet of paper, pencil or pen, 1+ dry erase markers

  1. Think about what you NEED to do every day (not what you think you SHOULD do or what someone else thinks you SHOULD do).
  2. Write those things down in an order you are most likely to do them.
  3. Place the paper in the sheet protector.
  4. Put the list in a place you’ll see it every morning, next to a dry erase marker.
  5. Use. (Do a task, mark it off, erase marks at the end of the day.)
  6. Revise as needed.
  7. Celebrate your accomplishments!

Just a note – some people think my list is stupid. My mom doesn’t get it. She hassled me about it at first. Why do I need a list? Can’t I just remember that? Honestly, no. I’m glad I kept using it. If it works for you, do it. Let me know how it goes. :)

© Michelle Routhieaux 2013

I made it rain bacon

8/17/13     1:21am

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I’m really glad I went to my reunion tonight. There’s always a reason. 4 cookies, 2 brownies, 1 bottle of water and a cocktail glass of bacon were worth the $75. I got to reconnect with a few friends I’d forgotten about. I met some new ones. I danced the ChaCha slide.

I kept getting distracted from my need to pee and when I finally got to the bathroom there was an emergency in progress. I immediately jumped in. I didn’t know the girl. She was drunk and had thrown up in the sink and somehow ended up on the floor, unable to get up, crying, slurring her words and continuing to throw up. When her husband left the room she begged me and the staff not to send her home with him, that she had to get away. She said yes when I asked if she wanted us to take her to a shelter. When he came back he tried to convince her to just go home. They had been hitting each other earlier. His presence elicited a visceral response from her. She immediately resumed throwing up and crying, repeating over and over again, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m a bad mom,” and gave in to his ruthless and repeated requests to just take a cab home.

Thankfully, I communicated with the hotel staff and they called the paramedics. He was pissed. She really did need medical help. And I believe that she needs to get away from him. I just don’t know how.
(breathe…)

When that was over, I said goodbyes and left. Emotionally exhausted. Spent. That’s why I was there tonight. I hope she’s okay. I’d like to follow up but it might not be safe for her.

I’m tired. Tonight I made it rain bacon. Literally. It was awesome. I got it in my hair, a piece stuck on my cheek. I admired the moon. I prayed. I didn’t drink. I dressed up for me. I didn’t lie. I took the trolley home. I’m proud of myself.

A lot of people remembered me – a nice memory. Long live the queen.

Quote of the night:
“I can’t even think as fast as you can move your feet.” -Shawnna

© Michelle Routhieaux 2013

The only change that matters

8/16/13     8:04am

I feel sad. Tonight is my 10 year reunion – prime time for comparisons. In typical me fashion, I wish there was an RSVP list so I could plan out my night. There is no agenda. I don’t know what to expect. I posted on FB last night in the reunion group asking what “casual cocktail attire” means – the official dress code. Several people I know replied they’re wearing quite fancy cocktail dresses and that their husbands are dressing up. I was just planning on wearing a dress I like, nothing fancy.

I have my doubts about even going. I anticipate it being a huge trigger. I wanted to be successful, to have degrees and a car and family. I am successful. Just not by my standard. I’m like that firework that shoots off in unexpected directions. Dazzling yet unpredictable. I only like it in the sky.

Who am I?

  • I am a girl looking to be loved.
  • I am a woman discovering herself.
  • I am creative.
  • I am talented.
  • I am hungry.
  • I am a cat mom.
  • I am a planner.
  • I am the voice of reason on a stormy sea and a mess of emotion in silence.
  • I am unstable and I am a rock.
  • I just am.
  • Michelle

I will be faced with many questions if I engage tonight. Where do I work? How many kids do I have? What degrees did I get? What am I doing with my life? I don’t know. And I don’t really care. I wish this was a barbeque picnic. Too much hype. Too much pressure.

I’m very tired. I woke up at 7:30, even though I went to bed late. In sharp contrast to the past several mornings, I do not feel bright, chipper or productive. I don’t want to be alive. My body is heavy. I don’t want to move. Yet, I’m awake. Is this from skipping 2 doses of my Flexeril yesterday or not sleeping? Why did I wake up?

I don’t know who I am.
I feel angry.
I want to sleep.

Whatever I decide to do tonight will be okay. I don’t have to share my secrets. I don’t have to be strong. God is my date. All powerful. He will lead me.

PS: Compare me to me if you must. That’s the only change that matters.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2013

Drive Me

8/8/13     1:44pm

I’m on the trolley. Not sure how I got this far. I just saw a really cool house, or cluster of houses, perfectly visible from the Mission San Diego trolley stop. Slanted paradise high on a hill.

I’ve been feeling agitated all morning. I took a few moments to breathe with my eyes closed. I feel more settled, cold. Now there is pain & exhaustion. I can’t track this new pattern yet. I can barely stay awake and remember to eat. I want a nap. The trolley soothes me.

Benefits of Public Tranist

  • Predictable/Plannable
  • Consistent low temperature
  • Social interaction
  • Walking and Stairs
  • Time outside in the sun
  • Soothing motion
  • Very inexpensive
  • Familiar routes
  • Interesting scenery
  • Hear great stories
  • Gives me freedom/independence
  • Keeps my brain active
  • Fills up time – keeps me balanced
  • I can write or listen to music
  • It is safe no matter my mood
  • I am usually on time
  • No parking necessary
  • Get to talk to friends on rides home
  • Meet awesome people like architects and neuroscientists and Billy the Shark Slayer
  • College football fans
  • Children & pets
  • The ability to travel backwards through time
  • The trolley culture – we help our own, RESPECT
  • Hearing other languages
  • Getting to rest, relax
  • Time to think, be
  • Having all my stuff organized and with me
  • Meeting regulars
  • Announcements that tell me where I am
  • Seeing Costco’s sky lights 
  • Watching construction
  • Riding on a caterpillar

Benefits of Driving

  • Faster than public transit (except in traffic)
  • Direct route
  • Available after buses stop
  • Don’t need to ask for rides
  • Can leave whenever I want

I started driving long ago. I’m getting used to but don’t really like it. Lifelong drivers tell me how great it is and expect me to be excited. They also expect me to drive everywhere and give others rides. I don’t see it this way. For me it’s somewhat of a loss. I feel exhausted and isolated, like I’ve done something wrong.

When I was younger I wanted a car. I needed to get away. I do still need one late nights and on weekends. Maybe spellbound 16 passed me. I like sitting. Public transit is a way of life.

(Amtrak passes by)

My daddy worked on a train. The longer Don lives with us, the more I find my thoughts changing, his image creeping in. He’s not bad. I rather like him. I’m just thrown off guard when I think of “my parents,” which I never have before and see him and Mom. When I think “Dad” I see him in my head. But he’s not my dad. My thoughts do deceive me. My mom is happy with his family. I’m happy with me.

I don’t think driving is good for me. It allows me to do 15 things in a day when I can maybe tolerate 3 or 4. I can’t self-regulate, though I’m learning. I can’t imagine the number of things I’d have

(conversation with Gary)

I have goosebumps. Long conversation with a man who just got kicked out of his program for drinking. He is quasi-suicidal, crying over the death of Junior Seau. Such a blessing. Another lady sat down and encouraged him. This is what drives me. This is what public transit is about. Changing lives, meeting humans, just being. A simple transit cop spreading encouragement and hope. (sigh) What a blessing. Being alone in a car doesn’t drive me.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2013

Voyage 200

8-7-13     7:42am

SAMSUNG

I woke up early today. Mom and Don left for his MOHS. I ate oatmeal outside. My body is tired but I’m awake. Two of my fingertips are part numb. I am lounged on the couch.

I did something risky last night. I listed my Voyage 200 on Amazon. If you’re not familiar, the Voyage 200 is an incredibly fancy gadget, also known as a calculator.

For me it was a status symbol. Only a few of us had one. I would often borrow the teacher’s. Then I convinced the Department of Rehab to buy me one. I treasured but never used it. It’s still in the box. It’s been 5 years.

I love math. I always have. I got an award in the 5th grade for being the only student to ever ask for “more math please.” It was a puzzle, a game. It could twist my brain.

I loved calculus – especially my teacher. She was great. She made learning fun and turned it into a small group experience. I had 2 semesters with her. Then we had a falling out. It was more of a nuclear detonation. I had been in the hospital and was unable to drop her class. Instead of giving me an incomplete, as we’d discussed, she failed me. I haven’t gone back to math since.

I’ve held on to this calculator as a sign of hope, of what could be. I don’t want to let go of the dream. I was smart. I wanted to finish school. But every time I try I end up back inpatient. Yet the calculator is always there in the corner of the living room, both taunting and reminding me of what I could’ve been. What I still might be.

Now my need for money has surpassed my need for memory and it’s time to let it go. (deep sigh) It’s the only thing I own that’s worth anything. That’s a little disheartening to me. I think I’m ready to let go. I’ll most likely cry when it sells.

Voyage 200, here’s to the separate voyages ahead. May you find a safe, loving home. And may I find peace of mind.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2013