I was asked recently by a therapist to make a vision board for myself. I really struggled with the assignment and it took two weeks but this is what I came up with.
©Michelle Routhieaux 2019
I was asked recently by a therapist to make a vision board for myself. I really struggled with the assignment and it took two weeks but this is what I came up with.
©Michelle Routhieaux 2019
I don’t understand. I may have written about this before but I don’t remember and I don’t really care.
I don’t understand. To me it’s a simple phrase with a simple meaning. There is no extra fluff attached, no alternate meaning. Last year my therapist and I got into it because I kept telling him I didn’t understand what he was saying and he told me he believed what I meant was that I didn’t agree. Nope, only disagreed with that.
I don’t follow like other people do. Or maybe I follow too closely. I am cursed with the ability to spot errors, omissions, incongruities, however small. I need the info coming at me to make sense and if it doesn’t I will say that I don’t understand. I am blunt. I ask questions. I have no qualms with raising a stink to get an answer. It is especially disturbing to me when someone “answers” my questions with responses that are unrelated. I will state so and repeat the question, rephrasing it if necessary. A few years ago I started giving up after a few tries but not before stating that my question had still not been answered. I have somewhat of a fan base in some settings because of it. It’s not fulfilling to engage with someone who’s not the slightest idea what I’m talking about. In fact, it’s maddening – probably to both sides but for different reasons. I’m looking for information. If the person doesn’t have it, or won’t give it, it would behoove them to just say that.
People think I’m being rude or annoying. They jump to conclusions about my motives or what I really think or mean. I’m accused of alternate intentions. They tell me what I should say or do or think or not think instead. They often get very upset that I don’t understand and/or that they don’t understand what I mean when I point out whatever they said doesn’t make any sense – in general, not just to me. If they stop to follow the line of thought and learn what’s missing, sometimes they will admit that it really doesn’t make sense. Usually instead I just get confronted with anger, accused of things or people just walk away or insult and then ignore me, then pretend it never happened.
Sometimes the topic is important to me and I’m upset AND don’t understand. Usually though, I’m somewhat devoid of emotion or visibly confused or disturbed when asking questions attached to, “I don’t understand.” I can’t always communicate very well in that state. It’s the mockery and invalidation that usually push me over the edge. I’m not stupid. I can read body language and I understand your words.
Over the years I’ve learned how to convert curiosity/question/notice/wonder straight to bitter hopelessness and move on with my day. I can feel my self turn to ash and float downwards inside me as I do nothing or walk away. Fighting the thought that I don’t matter isn’t worth it because in those moments it’s completely true. What I have to say or my concern or thought doesn’t matter and if I pursue matter-ing it could (and has) make things worse. I ask much like Sheldon Cooper, with a level of non-intellectual understanding only slightly higher.
So I end up hating people. That I very much understand. I “speak Michelle,” as a provider of mine said long ago, and not many others do. I am cross-lingual in a few other person-dialects, but in observation the two-way mirror only reveals one side. This morning’s argument was me asking for details about an event I was asked to donate something to for a raffle, which I believe is questionable but didn’t point out.
Excerpts from convo this morning:
Person B: We always have raffle giveaways at our events to promote wellness…
Person B: Why what (sic)
Me: Why have a standard of giving things away?
Person B: It’s not a standard. It’s something we like to do for our members. Why not? It’s generous. Omg!! You don’t like free mental health stuff??? Interesting.
Me: Don’t put words in my mouth. Free mental health stuff is fine sometimes, but it all costs money and at the end of the day I have to sit with and justify on paper what we spent the group’s money on. Does that make sense? I don’t mind contributing to your raffle. I just wanted to know the details.
I was livid but calm in text. If in her language “always” doesn’t equal a “standard,” there is no purpose in trying to get through.
It’s harder for me to interact with other humans I don’t understand than to harm myself by attempting to fill my own needs without engaging them. This afternoon’s debacle is within myself about why the HELL I can’t do anything today because I can’t think because my head hurts on the one day I have actual time. (PRN)
So very alone. I hate myself.
I don’t understand.
© Michelle Routhieaux 2018
Today has been one of the most harrowing days of my life. I’m currently propped up on pillows on the couch staring, half-watched the tv. Mom’s falling asleep with Ellie in the chair, intermittently telling me random things. I’m trying to to type but it’s extremely difficult.
I went to the VA MH Council meeting this morning – no problems. I mean, I didn’t want to go and felt a bit out of sorts but no more than normal. I was running late but participated a lot and socialized with Jean & Howard and McCail after, walked down with everyone. I didn’t want to leave just yet, wasn’t sure about plans for the day, so I sat down in the lobby and journaled and charted. It’s something I’ve done before. I like having moments to myself, unrushed, and I like watching the volunteer interactions there at the front. I was starting to feel like my blood sugar was low, getting a bit weak and disoriented. I wrote it down. I was alarmed when I got up to leave and began stumbling to the right. My purse is heavy and I used it as a counterweight. I figured if I could just get some food I’d probably be just fine. I made it to the Valet, ate a glucose tab, made it to the Chipotle parking structure, thought things were fine. I worked on something on my phone before getting out of the car. But when I did I was still falling and stumbling to the right. I had a heck of a time trying to get up the broken escalator stairs. I was starting to freak out as I waited at Chipotle. It was hard to breathe but I wasn’t feeling anxious. I made it through the line leaning on the counter, could barely hold myself up. I held myself up on the table until I could sit down. A growing portion of the right side of my face felt pressure, then tingling, then burning. Lips sat in a pout. My right hand and arm were shaking so bad I couldn’t eat more than a few bites. It wasn’t like anything I’ve ever experienced and God in my head kept telling me, “GO.” I knew I wasn’t safe to drive. I drank half my soda, bagged the food, and called an Uber. Thankfully, there are many around me.
I was lucky to arrive at the hospital in an utter lull. I knew what would probably happen and did – Stroke Code. Front of the line, many nurses and doctors all around testing everything under the sun. I was having trouble speaking clearly, moving my right side purposefully, holding a steady gaze. I had no pain. I wasn’t anxious. I was actually quite peaceful. All I’d wanted to do that day was get my nails painted but that would have been after Chipotle. Lots of blood tests, urine tests, eventually an MRI.
They were much less interested when they figured out I’m a psych patient. Reminded me SO much of Adrienne and scared me, but I was exhausted – both from shaking so much and fear and from the Ativan they gave me to try to stop the shaking for the MRI. I couldn’t move if I’d tried in the MRI thanks to drugs but I couldn’t stop the twitching/shaking. It’s been like that sometimes in the past few weeks. I don’t know why. The MRI people were nice. The last doctor not so much. The nurse came in and said great that my mother was there and she could drive me home. Ummm, excuse me what? The doctor came in and said my MRI of my brain was perfect and there was nothing wrong. I looked up at him and said, “I’m gonna have to call ‘Bullshit’ on you for that one there but continue…” He gave no explanation of any of what happened or why, how to prevent it from happening again, what to do if it comes back. Nothing. He just left. Dickwad. It’s really hard to type this ‘cuz my fingers are unpredictably shaking and I’m mostly lying down ‘cuz I’m too weak to continue sitting.
I didn’t call my mom ‘til just before the MRI. I knew she was off work then and she’d want to know. I didn’t ask her to come or for anything. I specifically did not need people freaking out around me. Minus all the patient reports outside, that room was so peaceful. I prayed and watched and felt. I listened. I tried to write. It worked a little. There was no tv or music, just me. And that was okay. The Ativan toward the end made me really tired and I know it’s still making me tired now. I’m still getting waves of confusion and dizziness. I contacted Dr. M but I think he wasn’t there.
So what do I do now? I asked David and Soleil for cancellations tomorrow and David called me. After talking a little, I get to see Soleil tomorrow. He says if there’s nothing wrong with my brain then it’s all psych and I’m under a tremendous amount of stress. Don’t you throw that psychosomatic crap at me. When I’m stressed my pain gets worse. I don’t go ‘round fake believing I’m having a stroke. Too much work if nothing else. I told him I agree I’m under a shit ton of stress but ALSO that something neurologically is WRONG with me, STILL. Fluids don’t solve that. Neither does the Chinese food I ate after. Nor will a few hours’ sleep. Today, though, wasn’t stressful before this. I wanted to get my nails done!
I need help but God only knows what with. I’m SOOOO tired and sore. God save the queen. Here’s to a tomorrow sans weakness, shaking, falling over and pretty large needles. Here’s to a tomorrow that’s not so scary and more easy to understand. Please pray if you do. Thanks.
Ⓒ Michelle Routhieaux 2018
I really need some help disengaging from someone. This is not mean or bitchy or inappropriate. Currently it’s one of a last few options I have.
I have an ex-boyfriend who is currently making my life Hell. We have been broken up for over a year. He is obsessed. When we first broke up he stalked me, which he denies. I was afraid to do or go anywhere. I couldn’t post online or on social media or my blog (you’ll notice the sharp drop-off in content). His interest/obsession goes up and down. He recently went to rehab and I didn’t hear from him. It was so peaceful. But he came back with such a renewed obsession over me. He texts at all hours. He corners me at my group. Thankfully he hasn’t shown up at my house. He asks all sorts of questions. A few days ago, in response to me saying I do NOT want to be friends, he emailed me a suicide note, involving me in a PERT operation and tracking down doctors I don’t care to be involved with. He talked the PERT team down and went directly back to texting me. He’s trying to get me to let him go to a concert with some friends in a few weeks. No! I’ve tried to be nice but I finally just texted “LEAVE ME ALONE!” In true fashion, he replied with more than one text. It spills over into FB Messenger and email.
Since he came back from rehab and started pursuing me again, my anxiety and fear have been through the roof. I can’t pick up my phone without wondering if he’s waiting there for me. He’s not a bad guy. He’s just refusing to respect my boundaries and this MUST stop.
The last wave of obsession last year did not result in a restraining order because I was trying to be nice. I’m done being nice, but I only have so much energy. I ignore most of his texts and he actually said a few days ago, “U don’t have to assume that if you reply to any message I send you, I’m going to purse (sic) your heart anymore then I would normally.” SERIOUSLY?!! He keeps saying he’s giving my mom and I a bunch of money in a few months. I appreciate that, and I won’t claim we don’t need it, but you can’t buy us. (pause) I feel defeated and I can’t get away.
Any help or advice would be GREATLY appreciated. And yes, he is most likely reading this post.
© Michelle Routhieaux 2018
I’m sitting here scanning a box of poetry from high school. It’s been under my bed for years, now next to the couch for months. Today is the 17th anniversary of when suicide became real to me. I wish it’d never happened. And the impact of this writing I only read a few lines here or there of gives me ultra goosebumps, makes me extremely nauseous, and if I was standing I’m sure I’d collapse. (and the tears…) (“If You Want Me To” by Ginny Owens)
I want to be right in the middle of the pain. I feel SO guilty. I LEFT her there. But she was me. And I can’t get her now. And she just screams and screams and screams. I can’t imagine having been my teachers when I wrote or spoke emotional truth. (stare…)
The music is very loud and I’m not sure what to do. Supposed to give a friend a ride to a group I’m leading tonight, at which I anticipate there to be some problems. I can’t be this person, or get into this person, and then do that. But not doing it validates that she doesn’t matter and never has. (head in hands…) (“Stronger” by Mandisa)
I wish I could see David today. I need to write too. Something specific. This is really best done somewhere with a garden. ;) I have to be strong enough to stand with her. I have to be strong enough for her, strong enough for me. Strong enough to let go.
© Michelle Routhieaux 2017
God has been all around me lately and on Tuesday He spoke this prayer. I was trying to think of a name for a Facebook group of my friends and words wafted through as I walked to the car. Then BITS came in. I wondered if it stood for something. I got “Blessed in the Struggle.” I like that. As I drove down the rather steep hill from my therapist’s office this prayer came to me, in lines and different colors. I finally pulled over to let it come through. I AM BITS.
I am BITS.
I AM Blessed in the Struggle.
I welcome His purifying pain.
I release my need to understand.
I submit my life to the Lord.
Every piece I’m angry about,
every care I hold, like each stone in the lake, I let go of.
My pain was never mine to begin with.
Jesus is mine.
Please Lord, show me your way.
Teach me how to read.
Teach me how to be, free.
© Michelle Routhieaux 2017
You know, I never thought it would be this way. Maybe because I never really thought. No one taught me what’s required to be a successful grownup, what it’s like to lose a love, to lose your life.
I’m sitting on the living room floor. Just switched from “Code Black” episodes to meditation music on the tv. I’m surrounded by the contents of what yesterday was my purse. I emptied it this morning and haven’t been able to figure out what to do with it. The air is on but I’m not hot. There isn’t always a happy ending.
I stayed home today. Got home super late from the ER with a friend. I didn’t have anything pressing today so I slept, kind of. Woke up to a call from another’s doctor. And the headache from the night before. It pressed on unto an 8, still moving. Took 5 prns and a few hours to even somewhat subside. So confused. The muscle weakness made an appearance today. I made a few videos. I did that the other day too. I haven’t been writing. I’ve been so scared. Too scared to pick up the pen or to write truth on the page. Or I want desperately to write but am too physically weak or tired or in too much pain to do it. Or I just can’t post what I need to say because the truth that’s eating the inside of me will eat through the outside of others. So much I want to tell David and I’m so scared. I really wish x was here but she’s not.
I’m so tired. I’m dancing the line between driving and acquiring a new bracelet. It holds no magic power though. I’m sick. I can and do help a lot of people, but I’m still sick. I feel so alone. Disconnect from those around me. Talk of needing to find a sustainable way of living long into the future without the help of others terrifies me. I’m trying to hold out ’til the 20th for my ECT with Dr. M. I got a confirmation call today about an appointment with a new neurologist on Monday that I thought had been cancelled. Honestly, I don’t have it in me to figure out food much less bring together all the facts this lady needs and communicate them in a way that makes sense to humans. (silent tears to piano music)
(long pause, visualization)
Was it meant to be this way? Always on the outside? Maybe one of my parents was successful living disconnected but made me with someone normal and I’m some fucked-up hybrid with all the skills a disconnected person needs to survive but an incredibly deep need, a longing, together to be. A polka-speckled universe. Cornflower blue. (pause)
I need to reschedule a meeting tomorrow so I can leave an appointment early to meet with a friend’s doctor, who is also my doctor occasionally and that of one of my other people, to talk about things she won’t agree with or understand and come up with a solution I don’t support at all. I had it all planned out – appointment in La Mesa, meeting at the cafe next door, picking lavender for the afternoon and then the OCD meeting. Maybe a visit in between. Now the appointment is in Miramar at a facility I need to powwow with but shouldn’t right now, in a place that embraces secrets as I hunt for my truth. My meeting will be replaced with a few hours of arguing. It may be followed by helping a person discharge, which will take the rest of the night. If not, the other person hopefully will be there by then. I take refuge in the quiet moments there. I talk to the staff and take in what my body calls love – acceptance, warmth, care and concern. We help each other and they’re proud of me. (staring)
I know what I need. And I can’t have it. Even if it was there I can’t do it right now. I had two somewhat regular gigs helping people that paid for my doctors. Now they’re gone and I have to solve for x. I have a little bit of savings and my mom is helping me, which is a trigger and a blessing. I surrender. I’m not sure what to do. I was already really struggling. Now the bumpers are down and I’m on my own. My therapist talks about finding a way to be self-sufficient one day. Right. I’ve no idea how.
I need to write but I need to sleep. And I’m craving candy. I get paranoid around this time of night and I keep thinking someone’s here, that someone’s watching me. I have to go. I’ll pray for you if you pray for me. Kinda like buy one get one free. ;) I really wish that I didn’t feel censored and that I could write and keep up with my charts. 6 years of my charts. I WANT to do them. They matter to me. I must sleep.
© Michelle Routhieaux 2017
…I shouldn’t be in this group. I really don’t care. I feel angry. Angry. Angry.
Cog says anger is secondary to hurt or fear. Am I hurt or scared? Yes. Of what? Well… I feel hurt that I feel alone. Hurt that I can’t perceive most of the people around me as anything but idiots – people who can’t possibly understand me. Hurt that it’s my fault, that even after so many years of effort on personal growth, even after becoming a me I love, I don’t know how to teach other people how to “get” me or even understand on a base level what I say. I also feel hurt because people trust me enough to believe I’m okay. (slow, deep breath)
© Michelle Routhieaux 2017
I can’t do this.
I’ve been home about a half hour. I took an Uber from 1925 Elm, wherever that is. It has not been a good day.
I actually woke up when my alarm went off at 8:30am and started researching how Facebook Live works so I could share Women’s Day at the church with my friends. K- had texted letting me know T- was speaking because he knows my friend really likes her. I didn’t get an event up yesterday due to the NAMI Walk but I put it on my page and I wanted to be able to share it, especially with that friend. I told a few people at the NAMI Walk too.
My body hurt quite a bit today from missing my 5pm meds yesterday during a nap, but I got up and took a shower. I had laid out my clothes – a really cute black and white skirt and black top. I heard my mom getting dressed, which baffled me since she neither likes that church, or Women’s Day, OR ever wants to go there. She said she just hadn’t been feeling well. Bullshit. She’s spooked from almost dying and wants to go to church so somehow “going with” me, which means driving me, which means us being late on a day I’m specifically trying to capture everything, seems perfectly sane. Right. But my balance is off today and I’m running into walls and dropping everything and I still fucking hate everyone, carried over from yesterday. I forgot my purse and she was determined for me to eat yogurt instead of writing or changing the last few settings on my phone or figuring out how to tweak a camera accessory to work with my phone.
She was pissed that I’m cranky, for which there are more than a few reasons, some of which are physical. When we got to the church we were the ninth car, including -’s. “Where are the humans?” I said. We were eight minutes late so I thought maybe for once they started on time. The doors were closed. No one opened them. I let my mom in. When the few humans who were there noticed my mom was there they were all excited and happy to see her and saying how they’d been praying.
(make a smoothie, move to couch, turn on piano music)
Everyone was happy to see my mom. I’m glad they paid attention to her. I sat down. The service hadn’t started yet, which I find annoying. – came down from going over a song to hug my mom. He hugged me too. He looked old today and I said so. He said it looked like I got the notification. He gestured towards my outfit. I told him I had no idea what he was talking about. The other ladies for Women’s Day were in black & white. I’m assuming that’s what he meant but I still have no idea. I said I wish I had gotten the notice/notification for this day sooner so I could send it out to my people. He said no, that he didn’t want any more notices or people, he just wanted Michelle. I stared/glared at him confusedly. What the fuck was he talking about? I told him you can’t have Michelle without notices or reminders, and I bring people. Again with the no more notices, just Michelle. He said he was changing things, blah, blah, blah. I looked at him again and said, “Don’t make me hit you today. I am not in the mood.” I was not joking and there was no way what I said would have been taken that way. I don’t even remember the last thing he said to me. I just know it was in the same vein. I grabbed my purse, stood up, hands raised in surrender and said, “I can’t do this. I can’t. I can’t be here. I’m out.” And I stumbled my way down the aisle and out of the church. I guess I’ve stormed out of enough events in my life that no one bothers to follow, or text, or call. It’s not in the best of neighborhoods. I don’t like being followed, but I’m not sure what meaning to attach to being ignored.
I don’t know what – was referring to, or what he meant. I certainly don’t understand. It was his notice I was talking about. HE sent it to me. He calls me his “new evangelist.” While I don’t like that word, it’s a type of outreach. What is Michelle without networking, without outreach? Really? Go ahead and define me without anything related to connecting people to other people or resources, without some component of organization or information, without sharing, or teaching. I dare ya. Spreading the Good News, or sharing the Gospel, is NETWORKING. I can’t not be me. And I don’t intend to.
I was aware as I left that I didn’t have my journal but I didn’t dare turn back to get it. I walked. I had my purse and my phone. I walked up 49th to Federal, down to Euclid and called an Uber at Elm. I knew it wasn’t safe for me to be walking there. I don’t fit in. I didn’t care. If someone had tried to mug me I would have just handed them my purse. It’s not worth a fight. I’m dressed too nicely on a Sunday morning to be a prostitute and I’m white so that rules some things out. On Federal a police car passed me, turned around and drove past me again. He did this several times. I was paying attention to my surroundings as I walked, but also to my body. Yesterday and today my face has been tense and twitchy, but I noticed something new today. As I walked, my hands were open static, palms forward. They just stayed there. My fingers weren’t moving. My soul was frozen. I give up. I stopped to smell red and yellow roses, said hello to the homeless people as I passed on the street. I smelled the two types of jasmine, picked one. I stopped to stand under the shade of a few trees. I just wanted to write but I had no paper. I needed a safe place to stop.
I wish I had wanted to die. Precarious situation. I’m used to feeling awful and wanting to die. It brings relief and I’m okay. But I didn’t want to die today. I just couldn’t stop the feeling. It’s all over. Nowhere to go from here. Dr. M said we can reset the inside of my brain but not my life. Sometimes I think it’s better to feel worse than good. At least in death there is hope. In this, it’s just endless bullshit followed up by a helping of confusion and then some more shit on the side. Why try to feel or get better if being better hurts worse?
There were no words in the UberPool. Driver barely spoke English. Before he arrived I looked down at my phone and my mom had sent me a text message. It read, “Don’t let the Devil keep you from being in church this am. Come back in, please.” I replied, “You don’t know what you’re talking about. I’ll see you later.” I was so hurt. How dare she? Sure. I use everything I have in me to get to a service I’m doing something special for, am extremely triggered and offended by something someone important says to me, leave so I don’t scream or hit someone or say something their delicate ears can’t handle and somehow it’s the DEVIL keeping me out of the church? Riiiiiiiiight. I’m in bed with Satan and my goal is to fuck up the church and cause a scene wherever I go just to get in the way. I’m sorry I never realized the beauty of this plan. I suppose all the people I bring and media I share are Satan-derived too. I earn Hell-points for everyone I bring to church or convert and extra for each time I get upset and leave. (close and roll my eyes) Why even try?
M’s coming over in a half hour to work on folders. I don’t care to see anyone. I don’t want to work. I hate the new labels. I need to return the proof for the table runner. I need a nap.I think I’m getting sick too and my doctor isn’t returning my message. (sigh) Mom called to say she’s bringing food home. I JUST WANT TO WRITE AND SLEEP.
God, please help me.
© Michelle Routhieaux 2017
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
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
I’m sitting in the VA parking lot. The potluck was tonight and I pulled it off well, got a special award from Libby. I cleaned up and socialized, kind of. I feel weak and dizzy and faint, like before I passed out yesterday. I walked the stairs anyway. I want that star.
(rest on my fist the space between my eyes)
Mom didn’t come.
I missed my opportunity. I fucked up. This is my fault. I need and wanted ECT. In the time I could have done it and recovered I tried something else to appease my doctor, which went horribly wrong. Now I’m in a med change. She’ll want to know if it’s working tomorrow.
Is my new med helping? Is it better or worse? I’m not sure how to answer that. Before I was severely depressed and non-functional. I wanted and needed ECT and had time to do it but needed help with logistics. Now I don’t know what I am. My best guess would be rapid cycling mixed episode with mild psychotic features and marked memory impairment. I go back and forth from bitter to rage to desperation to confusion – lots of confusion – and back. The period I’m not supposed to have now comes for about 3 days every week and a half. I’m bingeing a lot, making myself ill, impulsively maxing out my credit cards. I shut down completely in private and in public at inopportune times. I’m isolating from everyone, including D-. Fighting with Mom every day. Is that better or worse?
I missed the opportunity. They don’t come often. Today I went back to work for F-. I’m expected at group and outreach events and appointments. Because my moments are split I don’t get to pick ECT anymore. I don’t get to do what I know works for me ‘cuz I’m feeling now. Fuck.
(curled over, feel my heart beat on my skin)
What do I do now?
Just keep working.
I didn’t matter enough to fix. :(
Not my turn.
3 – When Daddy hides the roller skates, run run away.
No like Daddy clip his fingernails.
Ice live in penguins, Mommy.
I get to see J- on Thursday. I don’t know how I’m going to pay for it but I want my life back. I NEED me back.
What do I want/need help with?
(stare, hear a GameBoy game song)
3 – I want to go humbly. I mean home. You bozo.
(VA police sweep)
The difference between now and then is that in the darkness I felt hope.
© Michelle Routhieaux 2016
© Michelle Routhieaux 2016
I feel sad. (pause) I’m sitting on the couch, tv off. Mom’s asleep. The clock is ticking relentlessly, rain falling on the metal overhang outside. I watch the candle flicker. I don’t know what’s happening.
What’s happening now? I’m sitting in my room. I want to run away but I’m here. I feel my heartbeat where my butt touches the cushion and heavy in my chest. Most of my toes, the side of my left hand on the page. It’s hard to raise my gaze. “I want to die” is on my mind. It’s just a phrase. I’m not getting out.
God sends encouragement just before I need it. And I’ve yet to pair the thought that something bad is about to happen with the joy. Thank God for that.
I just stared at him. All I could say was, “Wow.” And I walked away. (prolonged stare…)
Am I really a miserable human?
(barely moving) Too painful. I don’t want to write. Have to. Need to.
(starting to pass out, not breathing)
After church today I stayed to talk to Matt about the choir, to ask what the fuck is going on. He seemed confused by the inquiry. The choir is chaos. I don’t get the details because I’m on the outskirts but I joined the choir in 2013 when God told me to. I didn’t go for the church or the pastor. I went to sing and to fellowship with Diane. I like the people. The goings on sometimes are questionable but only because I’m not on the inside. I come to most rehearsals. I show up for church. In the past I was able to sing a few pieces for special music. But this year everything changed. There was unspoken drama that caused Diane to quit and many other members to leave the church. I have no details. Bobby took over the choir temporarily. I like him as a human but choir practice sucked. Then a few weeks ago he quit too. Again, I have no details. Richard stepped in to direct temporarily though he lacks any ability to do it and we follow Helen and guess. Sometimes there’s rehearsal. Sometimes there isn’t. When there is we just go over hymns to sing and mark our books. Different choir members shout out what we need to do, direct from the loft. “Special music,” aka the music we sing as a highlight once a month, has become a joke. Even prayer time is lacking. More people keep leaving the church.
At the last rehearsal I went to two weeks ago I asked if in one of the ones I missed if there was a State of the Choir conversation, what was going on in regards to finding a new director and fast. No one seemed to know. They said maybe Matt was working on it. When I asked Richard for information he said he didn’t know. I said, “But you’re in charge.” Silence. The choir concurred that no one had any idea how to even go about looking for a music director or where to find one. I said I do. At least I have contacts who do and would probably help.
At church today Bonnie said she hopes I’m there on Thursday. I said I don’t know, that the situation is making me really angry. I don’t even get texts anymore about whether there’s rehearsal or not. She tried to make it better saying we’re working together and blah blah it will be better soon. It’s not okay. It’s not okay. Music is what ties the service together and speaks to souls. It matters.
After the service I went to talk to Matt. I asked what the info was on finding a new choir director and told him how unhappy I am at the current situation. Richard’s a great guy but he’s NOT a music director at all. Now is when we should be buckling down and starting to work on Christmas stuff. What we need is asking the impossible – someone who is skilled/talented at music and directing, experienced with hymns and traditional music, willing to give at least 2 half days a week, plan and execute holiday performances, coordinate special music, get along with everyone and do it all for free. (listen to solo piano on Pandora)
Matt seemed to have no idea what I was talking about in regards to the choir being in shambles. He said Richard was directing. I’m aware of that. I wanted to know who is looking for a new director, who is working on this. He wasn’t concerned. He said he’s not going to bring in a performer or hire a music director. He said he’s not like most churches. I asked if that meant he was expecting someone from our congregation to just stand up and do it. He kept talking about God’s will and that whatever God wants will happen. I told him I believe in God’s will but I also believe I have to DO SOMETHING too. I told him I’ve been in this choir for several years. I didn’t come to Trinity for the church or the sermons or the people. I came because God told me to come and sing with Diane. And I did. And I put up with a lot of bullshit to stay in it. Now she’s gone and Bobby’s gone and the choir is a mess. I can’t tolerate much more of this. Music is important. It’s connecting. It hurts to watch the program fall apart and the people do nothing. I’m so angry.
That’s when he said it. I thought maybe he would say if I felt so strongly about the program I should step up and lead, but he didn’t. He said Richard is the director for now and that he won’t be appointing anyone to replace him without really getting to know the person over time. He said, “Maybe this is God calling you to go somewhere else…”
I just stood there staring at him. We didn’t say anything. My breath stopped and my eyes squinted. Finally I said, “I’m just gonna leave that with a ‘Wow.’” I walked away without words. I grabbed my purse, looked at the choir loft, thought about the post-it on my hymnal from the first time I was there. Then I left.
I wanted to leave, to hide, go somewhere else but I’m still home. I don’t understand. I think I was just asked to leave my church. It’s not a horrific idea but I don’t get it. I bring people in. My friends like that church. Matt helps them when they need it. My mom gets along well with the people. They have free donut holes. It’s by my house. And it used to have people in it I called friend. They’ve never instituted any of my ideas or requests and they know very little about me, but they care. I don’t want this to interfere with the journeys of my friends. But it interferes with me. Not something I expected.
I don’t know what happens now, just that I feel very alone. Maybe it finally is time to change churches. I wish it didn’t have to be this way.
© Michelle Routhieaux 2016
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
Trying to write something difficult… So I went shopping… and put stickers on my keyboard. I was sitting on the floor where I usually sit but the smell of dog urine on the rug and the drama of Cedar Cove on the tv have pushed me to the kitchen. I don’t know what to say…
(eat cereal and scan a drawing to distract)
My brother died last week. Well, almost 2 weeks ago. I found out last week I am the legal next of kin. I’ve been asked to sign over my rights but that’s not what I want. I’m very angry about some of the things that happened, and worried about the effect of my actions. “Family” can be such a nasty thing.
I also found out on Thursday (yesterday) that if I want to continue on in Phoenix Rising training I have to do it in Colorado or Vermont, that I can’t do Level 2 here. It’s what I’ve been looking forward to for months. I already didn’t know how I was going to pay for Levels 2 & 3. I didn’t anticipate adding travel in so soon or needing to be stable enough to travel on my own by November. I can’t keep up. I don’t know what to do.
My drawing this week said I’m not alone and that I’m not running. I feel myself not running. In fact, the world seems to be standing still. But I do feel alone. Very. I wish I could feel that moment of wisdom where I wasn’t.
Today I got an email from the management of a choir I sing with. They had talked about us singing at some event on the Midway but never sent out info. Now it turns out they’re giving us a month’s notice to commit to two days of rehearsal in a row followed by the show the third day. This would be great except I just bought concert tickets for a whole group on the first day and I have a support group event the next. Fuck. I don’t understand. It’s Comic-Con. Why can’t one of those superheroes come and rescue me?
I feel like I’m bitching about stupid problems no one needs to hear about anyway. Except for I need to hear about them and I’m eerily quiet. I’m doing the best that I can. I really am. I’m taking my meds, going to my appointments and therapy. I see myself stronger and more grounded than years ago. I know what I want and I’m not afraid to stand in the fire for what’s right, even if I get burned. I’m just learning what it feels like to rely on faith.
I ran over the large remnant of a blown-out tire on the freeway Wednesday evening. I didn’t notice a problem until last night when I stopped to pop the bumper back into place. I told my mom and she discovered it has torn that piece under the car that stops stuff on the road from flying up into the important parts of your car. Lovely. She duct taped it. I think it needs more than tape but she won’t let me file another insurance claim. Last month I scratched a car in a parking lot. For the trivial nature of it it was quite the trial.
I miss how life used to be. I know it sucked but I miss having friends. I miss hanging out and liking each other and staying up all night at a coffee house and having pancakes in the morning. Now most of us have gone our separate ways or are busy or crazy or, let’s face it, dead. When I needed someone to sit with me this week to figure out my brother’s arrangements I literally didn’t know who to call. I went through my phone and finally settled on getting resources from some people I’m on a board with. I cried almost the whole day. Then I sucked it up and helped a friend. I didn’t want to lead a group on Monday but I took one when needed. And when I needed to pass it off at the break because I couldn’t take anymore there was no one there to take the clipboard. The people who used to work crises with me are not there anymore. My transition committee didn’t even show up to the last meeting – not a single one of them. (pause)
Maybe my relationships are affected by my place in the group, but I know that’s not all of it. (fall asleep on the floor) I’m friendly but distant. I don’t share a lot with people, though they share so much with me. I don’t show up to social events I’m invited to, most of the time because I am legitimately tired. And somehow, thanks to -, everyone thinks I call PERT or force people to go to the hospital whenever there’s a crisis, which isn’t true. I miss having friends.
I really want to complete the Phoenix Rising training. And I want my family not to hate me when I have the guts to make my decision regarding my brother known (probably tomorrow). I don’t think doing my best is wrong. It’s just hard sometimes.
© Michelle Routhieaux 2016
“Friends” on the tv. Ellie asleep on the couch next to me. Phone dinging intermittently…
I don’t understand. I don’t understand.
Yesterday I was unable to move or get out of bed until after 5pm. Zoe laid with me. I tried to write. I did get up one time. When my mom came home I tried to keep it from her as best I could. All my energy I used to get to the bathroom and take a shower with my shower chair that I promptly dried off and hid since she hates that I have it. I wanted to catch up on work all day. I guess it’s not in the plan.
Today I woke up with energy and surrounded by the Holy Spirit. God put a grieving widow next to me in church to comfort as she melted down. I ate chicken with my mom and when I came home to start working on the computer I saw a Facebook post from Chuck. My brother died today. Everything stopped. I posted a few pics and the news, then broke down sobbing. I don’t understand. I wanted to leave but there was nowhere to go. I went to my room, curled up on the floor, tried to read “Stellaluna” unsuccessfully. I couldn’t breathe. I slept all afternoon on my bed.
I don’t understand. Everyone’s dying. Last week Fatima and Ron. This Wednesday is Ron’s funeral. Today it’s Courtney. He’s my brother.
The people on Facebook say they’re sorry for my loss. I’m not sure why that phrase is so prevalent around death. I met my brother twice, dreamed of him for years. He had HD like my dad – the only one of us that got it. Mark met him with me once. All he wanted was death. I couldn’t help him. He refused treatment. And he lived far away. For awhile he called a LOT in the middle of the night. I haven’t heard from him in awhile. He crosses my mind but I haven’t called.
I called his step-dad Chuck to see what happened. “He wasted away,” he said. “The disease took it’s toll.” I don’t believe that. He said, “I’m glad he’s gone. He was miserable… He knew it was pretty close.” I guess Courtney hadn’t eaten in 2-3 weeks and refused care or hospice. He even stopped smoking, which was his thing, and going to the corner store. He laid on the floor by the door of his 5th wheel. He was constantly cold, died in a hoodie and snow jacket in the middle of summer. Chuck said he was, “gettin’ a little bit fantasy,” meaning he was talking about things that never happened like fires and earthquakes. Courtney was against medical treatment, IVs, feeding tubes, etc. There will be no service. He said, “Cremate me and throw me away.”
I don’t know what to do. My body barely moves. I really needed to work today, was looking forward to having time to catch up on life. But instead I slept, and when I think not a whole lot is there. I stare, stop moving. My world is cold.
Last week there were group crises. My level of functioning was such that I spent many hours staring. I even cried a few times. (staring…) I don’t understand.
Mom: Are you okay?
Mom: Why are you not okay?
Me: Well, people are dying all around me, I can’t keep up with my work, my body’s trying to kill me and, consequently, I can’t think.
Mom: Well, people usually die in threes so no one else will die for awhile.
What the fuck? There is no magic voodoo number on crises. They are not limited to sets of 3.
I can’t do this. I see Dr. H in the morning. I don’t even know what to tell her. Why does it bother me so much that my brother is dead? I couldn’t help him. (stare)
© Michelle Routhieaux 2016
6/30/16 I’m sitting in a conference room at the VA in an empty meeting. I’ve been wanting to write on this prompt from my brain for some time but I’ve been scared. I’ve been letting someone else control me. Someone mentioned last week that I hadn’t posted on my blog in awhile. There’s a reason. It’s just not pretty.
5 weeks ago my boyfriend broke up with me. Things had been getting progressively worse for some time and he decided a FB message was the appropriate tool to communicate with. He brought over my stuff, we exchanged keys, and he left. You’d think this would be the end. It was only the beginning. M- started (or continued) stalking me. He sent me notes through text, email, Facebook, Messenger, left me voicemails and off-topic comments on my blog. He went through other people to get to me, asking them to text me for him or contact me another way. He contacted my mother. He even hijacked someone else’s Facebook profile whom I was talking with to get to me. He at least stopped dropping by my house unannounced or at least I don’t know it. I took him off my FB profile as a significant other. I was confused but felt relieved.
It has been up and down since then. I haven’t felt this boxed in or trapped ever. Some of the things he’s done leave me honestly scared. He won’t let go. I can’t post on my blog because he reads it, can’t share in group because it goes back to him. Every time my phone dings or buzzes I’m on edge because it’s usually him and I don’t know what he wants. Will it be insults today or over the top compliments? Have I ruined his life or saved him? I don’t know. Frankly, I don’t care. He researches me online, talks to everyone about me. I don’t even know what people know about me anymore because he tells everyone everything. I’m a pretty private person. I don’t appreciate mass sharing. There have been days I went to comfort him and was yelled at for an hour. He’s the first person who’s ever said something to me so mean or hurtful that it literally took my breath. I couldn’t breathe. He acts as if his assumptions are truth and won’t believe anything to the contrary. The mood instability and purposeful manipulation grind me down and make me mad. He’s texted me “911” to get me to respond when there was no true emergency.
He asked to stop by after church on Sunday to drop off a letter to me. He stayed awhile. The conversation was uncomfortable but he was respectful. I thought maybe he’d changed. Nope. He went home and started messaging me that I need to change my profile picture on FB because it’s not very flattering, not the best of me, and he’s not the only one who thinks it. FUCK YOU. Who the FUCK do you think you are? I AM NOT YOURS.
In a continuation of the emotional blackmail, he posted on his website that any donations would go to me for my Phoenix Rising tuition. He put up a story about me that’s not true speckled with tiny spots that were. That night at group he brought me a journal and some candy and a drink. So wait, now I’m good again? I can’t keep up. I accepted them and said thank you. I asked him to take down the story since it’s both private and not all true. The one thing that’s really important to me and my future is that Phoenix Rising training and he KNOWS I need money for it. Why not tie me to him for the money? Brilliant idea, except that it isn’t. It only hurts me having to choose whether or not to stay in the abuse for the money. The answer is no. Thing is, I’m not even sure he sees what he’s doing. He honestly believes he is helping… I think.
Today I went to his baptism with another friend. He asked if my last FB post was about him. That SO pisses me off and he knows it. He’s back to saying he loves me and that he’s going to marry me and that when he gets back from rehab he’s going to chase me again. He says he KNOWS I still love him and am still IN love with him and KNOWS we’re still lovers in our hearts. He says he KNOWS he broke my heart (by cheating on me, et. al.) “Stop pretending like you don’t still love me,” he says. He claims to know what I think and how I feel and my history, which he doesn’t. He wants to be “friends.” He says, “That’s all we really ever were anyway.” No, it’s not. We were in a relationship. He was part of my family. He messages me in despair and sadness begging for attention and help. Last time I called him when he sent me crisis texts and he said he was fine, that he had talked to some friends and used some skills. I was livid. He said, “Well you didn’t HAVE to call. I’m trying to give you some space since you think I’m stalking you, even though I’m really not.” He wants me at his going away party this weekend and to agree to take one phone call a week from him while he’s in rehab for the next two months.
I can’t do it. I have laid back, kept quiet, tried to deal with this on my own. I have respected his privacy, though he doesn’t respect mine. I have altered my life. I have constant anxiety. When I think about him I get angry. When I see him in person it’s hard to breathe. Texts and FB messages haunt me. Hugs eat at my soul. I can’t get away. Last time I saw him he told me he was going to frame all my PRYT art and hang it around his house. That’s just creepy. I have waited, played along, pretty well I think. Friends and church members have encouraged him to keep pursuing me. He told me we are destined by God to be together and that no matter what he’ll find me and we’ll be together. I don’t know what to do.
I’ve been waiting to set any boundaries because I’m scared, both of the backlash towards me and the very high probability of a spike in his suicidality. I don’t hate the man. I have compassion towards him. I care but I am not in love. I am under attack. I really don’t want to hurt him.
Since what I send to him usually becomes public knowledge anyway, I will spare him the hassle and make this an open letter:
I’m sorry you’re feeling so scared about this new journey next week. You will make it. I’m also glad to see you get baptized today. You are a man of God now and strong in your faith.
The past 5 weeks have been very hard on me. Your constant pursuing and intense emotions and reactions have left me trembling, fragile, ANGRY. I don’t hate you. I have compassion both for you and what you’re going through, but it can’t include me anymore. Contact from you (good or bad) sets my body on alarm. I feel fear. It’s hard to squelch my anger about what you’ve done. Apologies don’t erase memories. And neither does any other excuse. I truly treasure the time we spent together and what you’ve done for me. We both grew and expanded our lives. But that time is over now. This is a new time. And in this new time we need to focus on ourselves.
You are leaving for rehab on Tuesday. I’m proud of you for going, for having the courage and strength to face your demons. I don’t want you going there thinking the whole time about how you’re going to get back with me when you’re released and live happily ever after. You’re not. I’m not interested. I’m not in love with you and my heart is not broken. I do feel sad though that it had to end like this. It’s not what I expected.
It’s important for me to be specific so these are the boundaries I’m asking for.
What is okay:
I know it’s a lot to take in. We will see each other when you get back and maybe someday when we’re both healthier we can be friends (by my definition). I’m not your best friend and I’m not your lover. Until then, we can be fellow group members who really care about each other.
Please leave me alone, M-. Please.
It’s time I take back my breath. This is my life and I want to live it. So, hopefully you’ll be seeing more posts from me soon. If not, at least you’ll know the pause is not from fear. Just sadness. And living my life.
© Michelle Routhieaux 2016
Today I woke up with a migraine – 5th day. I went to F-‘s and tried to be productive. I wouldn’t call it a success. I cancelled S-‘s. I knew I wouldn’t make it. I’d already had one sobbing meltdown (or was that yesterday?) and the pain was too high. I planned to rest before choir but made myself a hair appt too – gentle to self. I sat outside in the breeze for an hour while they rotated my tires. Choir got cancelled, which I’m glad about, and I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to go home.
My mom and I have been fighting a lot. I can barely stand being around her. I’m fragile and didn’t know what to do. I cried and cried after getting a warning from a cop for apparently cutting someone off. I’m close to max. Then Mom texted that it’s baby day and she’ll be staying the night there. Praise the Lord. We need some time apart. A thousand things I want or need to do. I hope the one I accomplish is rest.
I really wanted the new baby to be a part of my life. I miss the girls terribly. I trust God has a plan for me. I’ve been using my body a lot to ground me, making friends with the present. We don’t speak the same language but it makes me laugh and I’m curious to learn its story.
I can’t wait to sing at the fair this weekend, to welcome God and spread His news. I give up control. I’m doing the best I can. That’s all I can do. And I sing “Hallelujah Anyhow.”
God, please bless whoever’s reading this. Guide me, move my pen, hold me tight and don’t let go. Show me Your will.
God is so good. Praise Him with me.
© Michelle Routhieaux 2016