I want to be okay

11/23/2015     10:35pm

I just got home from DBSA and Ralphs. They were exhausting. I started the Wall of Hope. I sat in on Libby’s room, finished it off when she left. There were 2 nursing students there I invited from Point Loma Nazarene. On the way home M- had a panic attack on the 52 after asking me what ECT is like. A police officer asked us to switch and me drive. I told him I couldn’t. Thankfully M- improved with time and air.

Mom is on the phone with Don, who won’t answer when he’s coming back. Ellie is asleep next to me on the couch. NCIS LA is on the tv. I see Dr. H in the morning. I’m not sure what to tell her. M- is taking me. A- is driving me on Wednesday.

I don’t know what’s supposed to happen to me now. I feel like a different person. I’m not the same me. When I wake up in the morning I don’t know what to do, where to go, who to talk to. I don’t know what to eat, what to wear. I don’t know me. I think it’s harder coming home this time because my train of thought is different. My whole outlook has changed. I’m just not sure how to change with it. I want to be healthy. I want to be okay.

I wish I could have more structure in the community. I would love to live in a unit like South Rotunda. I don’t know of any that exist.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2015

Building a Life on Happiness

11-16-15     4:47pm

Homework: Imagine a life built on happiness…

Imagine a life built on happiness…

I would have energy and motivation. I would take chances and try new things. I would take better care of myself and spend more time with friends. I would DANCE and maybe have the guts to try musical theater again. I could tolerate spending more time with the girls. I would spend less time in darkness crying.

(eat dinner)

I would probably do more fun things like bowling and Zumba. I would be stronger, more able to handle others’ crises without crashing myself. I would have more art parties and probably shower more often. I might even be able to start brushing my teeth regularly. What a concept.

If I had a life built on happiness I’d paint my nails more often. I’d probably answer my phone and my self-esteem would improve. I could move on to DBT Level 2 and spend less time in appointments and therapy. Maybe my health could improve and I could have less random physical and neuro symptoms. That would be nice.

A life built on happiness would probably be filled with hope and possibility, art and writing, LOTS of music and dancing and yoga and movement. And maybe I could learn how to do nothing. That would be nice. I could find peace. Learn boundaries. Set limits. Take risks. Breathe. Be.

I just asked my nurse how long my seizure was today – 79 seconds. I wonder why they’re getting shorter (105, 97, 79.) I hope it’s not a trend.

I almost lost my room today. I’m thankful I got to keep it. I wonder how my life would be different if I had discovered ECT works for me before now…  I’m glad I’m brave.

I was right. Something did die with ECT – the intense need to die, the voice telling me I need to die somewhat constantly. It is almost absent. I feel a sense of wonder and joy. I do get heavy waves of sadness but not deathly despair. I feel happy to be alive.

Dr. H is letting me go to DBT on Thursday. Armando is going to take me and bring me back. I’m so glad I’m not dead. It’s a new feeling. This is a chance to reinvent myself, build a “life worth living” like they say in DBT. I’ve never been healthy before. Life starts now.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2015

Rearranging the Furniture

11-14-15     8:30pm

I’m listening to the credits’ music from “August Rush.” Feels like it should be later than 8:30pm. Mom brought me dinner and visited tonight. I’m really glad I’m here. I had my second ECT Friday and it went MUCH more smoothly than the first. They gave me nausea and pain meds in my IV and I’m not having as much memory loss. My muscles are still sore but that’s it. It’s curious because instead of forgetting people I know, I think I know people I don’t. Eh. Whatever.

I made a really cool bleeding tissue paper art piece today. It is multicolored with a picture of two mccaws in the middle and says “Fly Free” because that how I feel. I also made a bracelet that says “JOY.” I’m not sleeping very well but my appetite is back. I miss my dog.

I’m not sure what’s gonna happen when I leave here – if I’ll go back to DBT or what my schedule will be like. I know I can’t drive for two weeks but I’m not sure if I’ll be doing any maintenance. I look forward to going back to Soleil and Dr. H and the girls. I’m hoping this emptiness in my head doesn’t stick around and that the thoughts start to repopulate. My doc here says we’re “rearranging the furniture” and not to worry. That’s a tall order but I’m working on it.

(yawn, look around)
I got to talk to my aunt today… I feel like coloring. Maybe I will. I could draw or color some furniture, or just imagine it. I feel SO grateful. I find it curious how whatever controls seizures so strongly influences mood… We were going to watch “Roman Holiday” tonight but the new lady doesn’t want to. (long pause) The noise from the tv is hijacking my brain.  Let me reiterate how grateful I am for this hospital, my doctors and ECT and I’ll let you alone. Goodnight. :)

© Michelle Routhieaux 2015

My Inaugural ECT

11-12-15     7:08pm

I had my first ECT this morning. Kicked my butt. I had one of my favorite nurses today and a doctor I super love and trust did the procedure for me. I gave him a huge hug. I’ve had friends who’ve had it before but I wasn’t sure what to expect. Today – uncontrollable crying, super dizzy, intense nausea and muscle pain, and the inability to remember where I was, why I’m doing ECT and almost everyone on the unit – even people I’ve known for years. It was somewhat of a curious brain teaser trying to remember what the unit looks like. I’ve had a hard time catching my breath today but it’s getting better. They said I had a 105 second seizure.

I feel pretty wretched but I’m glad I’m doing this. I have another treatment tomorrow and then I have the weekend off, more next week. I made myself a bracelet that says “PROUD” today when I was finally able to get out of bed. I don’t have anything brilliant or exciting to share. I just wanted to check in. My mom’s coming with some food soon. I can’t wait to hug her and I hope I can keep the food down.

Thanks for caring and reading.

Love, Michelle

© Michelle Routhieaux 2015

The Red Wristband

11-11-15     8:55pm

I was given a gift tonight. D- visited and we sang. I shared some of me with her. She doesn’t want to lose me. I enjoyed the singing, the truth connection, but I still want to die. The exhaustion of interacting used everything in me. I talked to H- in the hall. Then J- came with a gift – a red wristband.

I never thought I would be one of those people who took a million meds or had a rolodex of doctors. I’ve never planned to be a sick person. I didn’t look forward to struggling through days. Yet here I am with a red wristband. I feel defeated. I’ve turned into Janet, only I’m not dead.

What does it mean about me?

  • I have ECT at 9am
  • My doctors are very concerned about me
  • I am sick
  • I have failed
  • I can no longer tolerate living this life
  • I am… free.

I think I can let go now, stop fighting just for tonight. God is here and my family is around me. My insides are hollow and my outlook dark, but my soul rises up. This is the end. I want to die.

I trust my team. I don’t want to let them down. I will sleep safely and meet Dr. M in the morning for ECT. I’m scared but I trust him with the brain attached to this red wristband. I just don’t trust myself.

I thank God for my doctors and my friends & family.
I’ll let you know how it goes.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2015

One Breath at a Time

11-11-2015     4:30pm

Sorry for the last post. Didn’t mean to freak anyone out. I met with my doctor yesterday and today and he’s working with four of my other doctors. It feels good to have a family around me. I’m going to start ECT tomorrow. I’m nervous but not afraid. I just really hope it helps. I want to feel better. I want to enjoy my life.

Some people are still upset that I don’t want visitors unless we’ve talked about it. That request stands. I’m working hard here on getting healthy and I have a low tolerance for humans. Thank you for caring. I really appreciate it. I have cards and notes from people taped all over my room and a big sign on the window that shouts “YOU MATTER.” I check my email and voicemail often. I’m makin’ progress one breath at a time.

I really didn’t want to tell anyone about the ECT. I feel like I’ve failed and have shame about needing it. I keep most things secret in my life but I think this secret should be something I can use to help others, even if sharing it really bothers me.

I gotta get off the computer now. I’m typing myself to sleep and Chandler is about to propose to Monica on a rerun of Friends. Stay well, my dears.

Love, Michelle

© Michelle Routhieaux 2015

Update from the Farm

11-8-15     2:55pm

I want to die. There is no simpler way to put it. I’ve been in the hospital since Sunday night. After two days of Hell with a doctor who yelled at and literally threatened me I got a really great doctor who is working very closely with me to try and make me better, or at least less close to death. He listens to me and reads my journal and talks about what actually matters instead of bullshit. He changed one med this week but I think it’s making me worse instead of better. I’m more “withdrawn, depressed and apathetic” according to my nurse.

I want to get better. I just also want to die. Quite the dialectic. A lot of stuff is going on in my life, both good and bad, and I’m tired. I am soul weary and worn. There is barely anything left in me. 10 of the 12 days before I came here I came closer than ever to suicide. I don’t care about almost anything. It’s not that I don’t genuinely care about and love my friends and family, adore and protect the girls, desire for nothing more than to lead my group to greatness. I just don’t have it in me right now. It hurts to be alive. I’m using skills. I’m trying. I’m alive. The people who’ve seen me are concerned. I am too.

During the midst of all this a group member decided to try to oust me as President of my group. I did not need that. I was supposed to have a family session with my mom and the social worker yesterday but the social worker never showed up. I tried to have the conversation with my mom anyway. It wasn’t so successful. She says she’ll do anything for me but when I called today to ask for something she was busy. She’s going to the Garth Brooks concert tonight. We were supposed to go together. I want to die.

My nurse today told me suicide is the most selfish act and that sometimes we need to be more selfless. I don’t think that’s true. I spend most of my time giving selflessly to others. I don’t do much for myself. Suicide would be the ultimate selfish act, me choosing to do one final thing for me. People can’t understand that.

I want to not want to die. I want to believe there is a reason for my living other than helping others. I want to be free. I want to believe I can be. Right now I just want to die. I pray for God to take me home and make bracelets with positive phrases to wear just to get me through the day. Am I concerned? Yes. Am I safe? Yes. Do I want to be? No.

It’s been a long year and I’ve done everything in my power to cope and push ahead anyway. I can’t do this anymore now. I want to die. I miss Dr. N. Maybe some sunshine or a nap.

Sorry for the dreary update. I just don’t have anything positive to share right now. I wanted to touch base. I appreciate you reading.

Love, Michelle

© Michelle Routhieaux 2015

I am a thunderstorm


I am a thunderstorm, slow to enter, firece to make its presence known. I dance with fury ‘cross the sky striking down shame, raising up love. I water the laughter and revive joy. My eyes see fear and anger. My heart feels the black heavy weight of depression & loss. My hands reach for the lost and hold the pain. My feet walk slowly away. Today I am your thunderstorm. I leave for you a quiet gratitude rainbow. Trust in me. I exist only for you.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2015

Porta-potty on a Race Course

10/11/15     3:35pm

Yoga Therapy Art_0054

I asked B- how to stop running. There were a lot of words I don’t recall that boiled down in my head to “Porta-potty on a race course.” Find small moments, opportunities to be, and take them.

I want to stop running. At least I think I do. But I don’t know if I can tolerate it. I have a lot of shit in my life and my past always threatening to eat me. To survive, I run. Don’t stop moving. As long as I am distracted or busy the thoughts or memories can’t get to me. As soon as I stop I get flooded. It can be dangerous. I don’t know how to slow down, to moderate. When there’s too much stress I get sick or my body shuts down. Involuntary protection. But running isn’t living. I never even see my mom.

Porta-potty on a race course. Take small moments for self-care and being. Pause. Drop in to existence for the time it takes to pee, then run again. Use the space as a gift of rest, a moment with the freedom to feel. No one is watching. No one is judging. Allow release. No one’s stopping me from choosing to run. Not for that moment.

I want to stop running. I want to be able to tolerate the distress of being, of the voices, the memories, the loneliness. I don’t want to be a secret. In the porta-potty I can hide and just be me. A-‘s wiling to start work on my trauma soon. Who will I be without fear? Can I tolerate the emotional debridement? Will I find me? Will I like her?

I don’t want to run anymore. I’m tired. God, I’m tired. Last night I wept and cried out to God. Today I sobbed all the way down here on the freeway. I’m not me. I don’t know how to be. (Reminder – joy only lies in movement)

My head hurts.

How do I learn to process and be me in chunks? Who will me be without trauma and pain? Will I be more able to help others and feel joy? Will I want to be?

I’m tired of running. I’m tired of wanting to die, of hiding. Of shame and lies. I want to be real. I want to be openly real.

Start by practicing in a porta-potty when you stop to pee.

I don’t know what’s happening to me and I feel scared. I really want to make change in my life, to come to terms with what is and was, to be able to sit safely with the truth. I welcome times of brokenness. I want to accept that though I am broken, I am whole. I’m not there yet. I want to change. I’m not there yet either. Right now, today, I’m sitting in a porta-potty on the side of a race course, grateful. I have to get up again (I’m late) but for now there is peace. Thank you.

God, I love you. Thank you for this moment.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2015

How do you do it?

From:     8/24/15     1:32pm

M- said several times he and other people want to know “how she does it.” Well, how do YOU run from a dragon? In a methodical, complicated & somewhat randomized fashion. He smokes. I work. There’s no difference – except that I can breathe. I’m constantly running. It’s not to be admired. Yet it is.

I really don’t feel well.

How do you do it?

  • Don’t stop
  • Never stop running
  • Trust no one
  • Don’t share feelings
  • Better yet, don’t have them
  • Always watch, listen
  • Note any sign of danger
  • Network extensively
  • Tell only the required truths
  • Make allies, not friends
  • Schedule EVERYTHING
  • Learn the rules & the rules in play
  • Learn how to exploit the loopholes
  • Study systems
  • Hide out to spend time alone
  • Have an acute understanding you are NEVER safe.
  • Love from afar
  • Do not engage
  • Learn to walk away
  • Turn rage into ash inside your soul
  • Develop a network of safe support
  • Be whatever you need to be in the moment
  • Be specific
  • Focus on tasks
  • Never lose sight of the big picture
  • Ignore pain
  • Never admit weakness
  • Learn by doing
  • Do what works
  • Know God. Believe God.
  • Don’t make promises or keep secrets
  • Have at least one safe grounding person you trust who wants nothing from you
  • Try not to remember what you love, that this is not you
  • Avoid emotion-producing situations
  • Walk towards the fire
  • Cry out to God, “Why can’t I matter too?”
  • Distract from the fact you don’t feel love
  • Ignore painful personal facts
  • Avoid free time
  • Do projects
  • Don’t take no for an answer
  • Spend time alone
  • Scream
  • Pull your hair
  • Ask questions no one answers
  • Say important things no one understands
  • Spend time in psych hospitals
  • Take lots of drugs
  • Stop eating occasionally
  • Maintain control
  • Run from feeling trapped
  • Cry in private – public restrooms, parking lots, in the dark, behind dumpsters, silently
  • Get your love from hugs
  • Never think about this
  • Throw yourself into helping others
  • Hate almost everyone
  • Take your meds on time
  • Chart your progress – detailed & scientifically
  • Choose measurable tasks over humans
  • Thrive on lists
  • When given the option, choose kids or animals or the disabled over adults
  • Learn to ignore
  • Swing
  • Twirl
  • Write
  • Run away every once in a while
  • Come back. Don’t talk about it.
  • Never let your guard down, even at home
  • When you fail, back away, shut people out, try again.
  • Sing
  • Rock
  • Pray
  • Never stop running
  • Then eventually die
  • But not without doing it all the right way


That’s all for now.

PS –

  • Don’t forget to hate people, vehemently
  • Remember to eat
  • And always keep a hair clip, journal & cardigan on hand.

So if you want to know how I do it, my best answer is God.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2015