Sent by God

3/15/17     10:54pm

A strange thing happened tonight. I was out to pizza with a friend and I had my dog Ellie. I know crazy people are drawn to me but tonight’s variety was different. I was at the counter waiting for a change in receipt when a disheveled man came in from outside and asked about Ellie. He started talking about PTSD service dogs and mentioned he was homeless. He told me he saw a super famous doctor in La Jolla once. I asked if he was a vet and he said no, that he wasn’t part of “the killing machine.” I tried to end the conversation and go back to my friend but no such luck.

The man came with me and sat down with us. He said there was something he wanted to tell us, something important. I have no idea what it was. I do remember him saying the word “bitchin'” and his name being Greg. My brother’s name is Greg and he’s the only one I’ve ever heard say that word. I wanted to give him a low income housing resource. Instead I heard about his experience being homeless, his family structure, some pro-Trump ranting, and how if he’s going to join a gym it has to be 24 Hour Fitness because it’s right down the street.

The man was filled with tears. He knew we wanted him to leave, yet he stayed. He asked if he could pray for us. He put out his hands and I held one and closed my eyes. He said a powerful prayer for my friend and I. God was there. I could feel it. He walked away and we took our pizza and left. The feeling stayed with me that God was there. Before I got in the car he showed up again and said to me that he really needs my help and would I PLEASE help him to get some place to live, some place with a bathroom and a shower, that he would work hard. He just really wants help. It was sincere. He never asked me for money or to buy him anything. He came to bring God to me.

I got in the car and told my friend about faith, that what is holding me up now is faith. I don’t understand what’s happening and I can’t fix or change it, but what I have is an unending faith and a posse of blessings and a crowd of people who love and support me. I have Jesus. I let go and trust. I am held. I’ve been really scared and, as my friend would say, “losing my shit,” and tonight God sent me a homeless man to refocus, to reconnect. He didn’t go anywhere. He never stopped caring for me, making everything right. Sometimes I just can’t see.

Thank you so much, God, for loving me. Please show me how to help your servant Greg.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2017

Wish List

3/5/2017   3:51am

251847-happy-birthday-to-me
So, it’s not my birthday yet but it’s coming up this Wednesday and a few people have asked me what I want. I’m not too good at birthdays, as evidenced by my track record, but I made a list of things I’d like to get or do. I’m not asking you to get me a gift or implying that you should. I just want to put the information out there for anyone who feels the need to. Thank you in advance. Here’s to a great Wednesday. :)

 

Amazon Wishlist: Michelle’s 31st Birthday
(collection of things online I’d like)

Free Options/Add-ons:

  • Choose DBSA San Diego on  AmazonSmile so my group makes a profit off of your Amazon sales. Just start your shopping at smile.amazon.com
  • Join Ebates using my referral link and then buy something. We’ll both get a bonus.

Gift Cards or Credit to:

  • CASH is always welcome ;)
  • Funds to see one of my cash-pay providers – Soleil, David, Dr. H, etc. – or towards my Phoenix Rising Training fund (please specify; my paypal email is whatnomuffins@gmail.com)
  • Amazon.com
  • Pampered Hands (Costa Verde Shopping Center)
  • Rigby & Peller (Fashion Valley)
  • Vision Direct
  • USA or Arco Gas Cards
  • Target
  • Chipotle
  • Jamba Juice
  • Rubio’s
  • Pieology
  • Sizzler
  • New York & Company
  • Kohls
  • JC Penney
  • Regal Movies or Edwards Cinema

Tickets:

  • Rock & Woship Roadshow March 10th – Ontario, CA. I’d love it if some friends could come along.
  • Chris Tomlin’s Worship Night in America – May 9th SDSU. I know some people agreed to go but I haven’t had the money to buy tickets yet.
  • Kinky Boots

Activities:

  • I’d like to try a Barre class
  • Santee Drive-in
  • Bowling at Parkway Bowl
  • Ice skating
  • Trampoline Park
  • Rock Climbing
  • Sea World (I get someone in with me free)
  • Butterfly exhibit at the Zoo
  • Art Night at my house or Quiet Party
  • Let’s go to laughter yoga in Balboa Park
  • Horse riding on the beach
  • An afternoon at Coronado dog beach
  • A night at the Shout House
  • Come to Zumba with me
  • Come to church with me

Well, I hope that helps. Helps me to know what I want!

© Michelle Routhieaux 2017

Hope in Electricity

1/23/2017     11:43pm

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I feel so good. My body is really sore and I can’t drive but I feel light. Colors are crisp and clear. They may only last a moment but I have ideas. I smile warmly for no reason. I breathe deeply without having to think.

Today I had ECT (my 1st since April). A change in anesthetic caused some problems but I am so much better. I am blessed with an amazing doctor who genuinely cares about me and a dream support team. Friends are helping with rides. I am released to rest and sleep (both from my depression & ECT).

It’s been almost a year since I was doing somewhat okay. My current therapist says he doesn’t recall ever seeing me not in crisis. Late summer I started to get worse. My repeated calls for help fell on ears that considered them my norm. I prepped to go inpatient in Sept/Oct but thanks to an amazing arsenal of coping skills and extra sessions of therapy I was able to hold off. I asked for ECT. My doc wanted DBT-IOP. I got pushed into a different program instead due to my people being in DBT, despite my multiple warnings that it was not a good idea. It was, as anticipated, a catastrophe that ended with an event appropriately described as trauma that I’ve yet to be able to process. In 1 day I went from 25+ hours of treatment/therapy per week to 2-3 hours. Not good.

Lately my suicidal ideation has been through the roof. I’m fighting for my life. I’ve also been impulsive, angry, self-harming, dark, unable to access empathy, scared, feeling alone and hopeless. Last week I called my therapist at midnight. I packed for the hospital. I cried.

They laid hands on and prayed for me at church on Sunday. It was unexpected yet utterly calming. I was surprised last week when my pdoc offered ECT. In one moment she validated and made my ongoing normalized experience true. I was confused. Even this morning I was panicked as they put me under. But Dr. M had my hand and I could feel God and see the outlines of my angel and D- and some unknown to my left. I am exhausted and sore but I am okay.

God, thank you for blessing me with family & friends and kick ass doctors. Please continue with my healing and keep using me for Your will.

My next treatment is Thursday. I wonder how long they will last – not the set but how long between treatments before the effect begins to wear off. I’m itching to do weekly. I can drive then. ;)

I enjoy resting and sleeping now. And rain

M

Update 1/31/17  1:46am:

I had a treatment on Thursday and another today. The weekend was really bad but I feel better now. I’m getting some rest and reminding myself to do one thing at a time, be “gentle to self,” as we say in group. I’m proud of me and grateful for my treatment team, my friends and ECT. There is hope in electricity.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2017

Have you Smiled yet?

1/14/2017     1:06am

Now that all the crazy end-of-year giving charity hype is over I have to ask, have you Smiled yet?

jamies_hope_amazon_smiles-3

I’m always looking for new and easy ways to raise money for my group DBSA San Diego. I love Amazon Smile. Here’s how it works:

  1. Charities can sign up with Amazon for an Amazon Smile account.
  2. People like you and me go to smile.amazon.com and sign into Amazon. If you have a direct link, you can choose that charity easily. If not, you can search from a list.
  3. Then just start your shopping from smile.amazon.com instead of plain old http://www.amazon.com. An easy way to remember is by just using the Amazon Smile extension for Chrome that you can find here. Sometimes there will be a pop-up to remind you if you’re on the regular site.
  4. When you buy things through Amazon Smile, your chosen charity gets 0.5% of the price.

To choose DBSA San Diego, use this link: https://smile.amazon.com/ch/46-4731973
The location says Chicago, IL because that’s where we’re headquartered.

Shopping through Amazon Smile doesn’t cost you anything extra. You only have to sign up once. All the same products are available. You just get to help out in a really great way. There’s even a little note by each product if it’s a purchase eligible for donation.

I’d appreciate everyone joining to support DBSA San Diego and sharing with friends.
Even if you don’t support my charity, it’s a really great program.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2017

God Sent me a Hummingbird

7/23/16     10:56pmlavender painted lady

I am SO blessed. I’m sitting on the couch with my dog cuddled up next to me. Mom is sewing as we watch Big Bang Theory. It’s some sort of dream.

I woke up this morning. Yep. I wandered around my house most of the day confused and anxious, freaking out and shutting down. I finally found the guts to write to my brother’s step-dad about what I want to do with his body. I sent the message over Facebook and went through a basket I haven’t touched in ages while watching NCIS. My niece’s mom contacted me for the first time. Then the step-dad responded in agreement and my fear fell away. I could BREATHE. What a blessing. I also got to chat with a friend from Level 1. Thinking of her lifted my spirits.

In the afternoon God told me to go cut lavender. So I found my scissors and went 56 minutes before sunset. I prayed for God to sit with me as I cut the flowers, to bless me and the people who grew them, to heal the people who will receive them. I asked Him to let me just be. I walked and sat and cut. I listened to the neighbors. I watched the families interact. There was a butterfly that flew by. I say automatically, “Hi, God.” Sometimes instead I say, “Hi, Dad.” I pay attention to them and to the flowers.

As I sat on the ground collecting purple flowers I heard a buzzing. It was a hummingbird. It flitted around the plant beside me then came over to the one I was working on. I stayed still and watched. It backed up and stared at me. Then it moved forward, forward more. We were face to face and I didn’t move. God sent me a hummingbird. It hovered long enough to hold my attention. When it was ready it flew away. I praised God for the day.

I met a neighbor whose mom is a patient at Mesa Vista. I shared DBSA with her. I really hope this one house’s inhabitants show up soon. I REALLY want to cut the flowers in front of it. Mom wanted a bun taco from Del Taco so I drove through. I hadn’t been to that Del Taco or through that drive thru since November 16, 2001, when I left my dying father. The lady who gave me my food at the drive thru looked different. She didn’t fit the image of a fast food worker. I told her she looked too skilled to be working at a Del Taco. She said her husband owns the franchise and she fills in where needed. I told her about not being there since 2001. She told me her daughter, who was 26, died three years ago. She also told me about her mother with Alzheimer’s and their struggles. I offered resources and gave her lavender. She was amazing. She said to come back more often. I don’t know her name and I don’t like the food, but I’m pretty sure I’ll go back to see her.

I listened to Snap Judgment on the way home, bought bananas, made a smoothie and walked into my living room to Mom sewing. I don’t know what inspired her to do that (she is AWESOME) but I’m glad she’s back in her element.

I am so blessed. I’m exhausted but joy fills my face – and my soul, and my toes. Hallelujah blessed. Yesterday and the day before we SO awful. And today I’m okay. Held by God. I’m even back in touch with my old ballet teacher, who has been in the wind for years, and my 8th grade history teacher. They both appeared like the butterflies and the hummingbird.

Look for the small and so meaningful blessings in life. A hummingbird shouldn’t have to stare me in the face for God to grab my attention, yet today it did and it worked. God is with me. Don’t let me forget that.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2016

I’m Still Standing

7/14/2016     2:28pmYoga Therapy Art_0087

Such a powerful session with Soleil. I’m still standing. Embrace the pain. I am strong enough to be weak, to be vulnerable. I feel God hold me and I let go. For the first time I wholly trust. Embrace the pain.

I’m not lying as much. I’m not working when I need to rest. I let myself cry… I’m doing the best I can. I also am asking for help, accepting.

I am so grateful for the blessing of this pain and for the courage to stay in it.

Urge to hug the yellow pillow.
(close my eyes)

…I am so blessed.

I’m still standing.

I feel my body this week.
I breathe.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2016

On ECT…

12/26/2015     1:56pm

I’ve been wanting to write on ECT for awhile now. It seems everyone has their own opinion about it, even if they haven’t experienced it. I say, unless you’ve tried it shut your face. This is my experience with it.

In case you didn’t know, ECT stands for Electroconvulsive Therapy (shock treatment.) Right, like in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” only not. ECT is used for severe depression when medications and other treatments haven’t worked, suicidal depression, psychosis, severe mania or catatonia. It may seem barbaric but it’s actually quite effective. Antidepressants have about a 30% effectiveness whereas ECT is about 70%.

I started ECT mid-November after 15 years of med changes and 13 hospitalizations. I wish someone had offered it to me sooner. 5 of my doctors worked together to make it happen. Here’s how it happened. I was given the option and information that I could sign only after having it for 24 hours. My doctors made sure my labs were good and I passed my EKG. I was evaluated by 2 doctors and then scheduled for my first session. I opted not to view the ECT video. I’ve seen it before. I’ve had many friends who’ve had ECT so I knew a bit of what to expect and considering I’d rather have been dead the outcome really didn’t matter.

I started ECT inpatient 3 times a week. The night before they give you a red wristband that means you can’t eat or drink after midnight until they take the band off (because of the anesthesia.) I got lucky for my first ECT and had my favorite nurse assigned to me. She came to get me super early in the morning when the ECT dept was ready for me and walked me down there. The nurse there greeted me with a smile and took my vitals. The nurse from my unit stayed with me until it was my turn. Then they took me back to meet my doctor in the treatment room. As soon as I go in, I sit down on the gurney (which is ridiculously soft.) The nurse on my left starts an IV in my left arm, the nurse on my right covers me with a warm blanket, the anesthesiologist is above my head and my doctor is either sitting at a computer on my right or standing at my feet talking to me. Someone puts electrodes on my forehead and right temple. I try to stay conscious as long as possible but inevitably mid-sentence my doctor grabs my right hand, smiles at me and says I’m going to get sleepy. The world gets a bit blurry, shakes back and forth two or three times and all goes black. The next thing I know I wake up in the recovery area. I still have no idea how I get there. When I wake up I feel happy and healthy, they take my vitals and someone gives me apple juice.

While I’m asleep they shock me on the right side and top of my head (unilateral), causing a seizure. In the IV they give me meds to paralyze my body so I don’t shake. Because of this, they breathe for me. They tape my eyes shut and put a mouthpiece in so I don’t grind my teeth. I don’t suggest keeping contacts in if you wear them. I did the first time and somehow lost one when they pulled the tape off. Don’t worry. They do it before you wake up and it doesn’t hurt at all or leave a mark. I have longer seizures than most people. Last week I had my longest yet – 148 seconds. The length of the seizure doesn’t seem to matter as long as it’s at least 20 seconds. Some people have bilateral ECT, which means they get shocked on both sides. That kind of ECT has more memory loss and side effects. They don’t seem to know how or why ECT works. I read an article last year that said it slightly damages the part of the brain that’s overactive in depression. Other sources say it basically jumpstarts the brain or changes the chemistry. Either way, it works.

My first ECT was the worst. They didn’t give me any extra meds because they didn’t know what I’d need. I had no idea where I was or who the people on my unit were. I was crawling on the floor nauseous with a HORRIBLE headache. I did at least remember my nurse, who I’ve known for years. My legs hurt SO bad for several days, which they told me was because they were super muscular and adjusted the anesthesia. They “stacked” my first two treatments – two days in a row. After the first one they started giving me Toradol and Zofran in the IV and I’ve had much less difficulty with pain and nausea.  After the first treatment I felt joy, which confused but elated me. I didn’t know it was possible. I had 5 treatments inpatient and was doing so well that they discharged me without a plan for maintenance treatment. Then my therapist fired me and some other shit happened and I took a hard and fast dive towards death. So I decided to go back to ECT. Now I’m getting treatments once a week.

ECT has not been without side effects. After doing treatments three times a week I couldn’t drive for 2 weeks. Now that I’m doing it weekly I just can’t drive the day of or the day after treatment. About an hour after I wake up I get a headache and feel very nauseous. Sometimes I can stay up and work on the computer or write. Other days I just sleep. I have Tigan to take PO for the nausea. My memory is spotty and my cognition is definitely impaired. I have trouble remembering names, passwords, how to get places. My mind, which is usually chock full of thoughts and ideas, is often pretty blank. This is new for me but I don’t altogether hate it. There are certain things I don’t remember at all. I’ve gotten into arguments with people about things I apparently did but have no memory of. This is frustrating for me. Thankfully at least one of those people understands why. My mind is usually a steel trap. If I don’t remember it, it didn’t happen. But I guess now it might have. I’m learning. It’s like ECT as ERP. I’m learning to accept not knowing or remembering. I so often now hear myself saying, “I don’t know.” I also get very sore muscles for a few days after my treatment – sometimes my neck or shoulders, tongue, back. The soreness seems to travel but doesn’t show up until the second day.

I feel offended when people tell me I shouldn’t be doing ECT or when they hassle me about how many treatments I’m having. They say they’re concerned about my mind or the side effects. They fail to take into consideration that it’s saving my life. I KNOW I’m not the same. I’m aware that my mind is different. I’ve seen how it can ruin people’s minds. It’s not ruining mine. I trust my doctors and God has given me ECT. Maybe not for forever, but definitely for now. I finally found something that actually helps me. I do feel sad more often than usual, but I believe that’s because I’m actually feeling. I’m dissociating less, actually living in the moment. It’s new for me. I think it’s good. I intend to keep doing ECT until my doctors and I agree on stopping. Please don’t try to dissuade me.

If you’d like to talk about ECT, feel free to leave me a comment here or contact me personally if you know me. I’m not up for philosophical arguments but I’m willing to answer questions or help you out. It’s not as scary as it seems. I promise.

This is the Mayo Clinic article about ECT. Mayo Clinic – ECT

© Michelle Routhieaux 2015