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

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Life Update – Thoughts from the Couch

11-20-16     11:46pm

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.

Today I went to church and lunch with my mom and her friend. I fell asleep after, picked up a migraine and forgot what I wanted to work on. I’m not doing well. I’ve been quite depressed for some time. I wanted to rejoin the ranks of ECT but tried an intensive outpatient program instead. That ended terribly. Now I’m trying to figure out what to do, only I don’t have the mind to do it. Dissociation has taken on a life of its own. I’m losing time. I can’t follow what’s happening. I’m sending freaked out emails to my therapist that later I have no or little recollection of. I started a new med that I’m pretty sure is either making my symptoms worse or holding off the small sanity breaks I usually get. I’m usually a shark when it comes to managing money and two months in a row now I’ve forgotten to pay bills. I can’t keep up with my work, often forget I’m even supposed to be doing it. I go to my group and do the bare bones. I’ve been somewhat honest about the fact that I’m struggling but I don’t share in group or when I’m willing there isn’t time. I avoid it altogether most times since the feedback I get is often silence or replies that are only vaguely relevant. My friends express concern and ask if there’s anything they can do to help. I know if I told them something they would do it, but I don’t know what that is. I’ve pulled away from almost everyone. I don’t know what to do. I go in and out of wanting to kill myself. It’s not a likely scenario considering I don’t actually want to be dead and I can’t undie if I don’t like it. Soleil also pointed out recently that I’m always moving and there’s no movement in death. That would certainly be a problem.

I think it was last month that I had packed a bag and left it in the car should I want or need to go inpatient. I’ve since unpacked it. I did tell my mom after a bit and I told her I was considering more ECT or an IOP. She didn’t really seem surprised or upset, or anything for that matter. When I went into IOP all that mattered to her was that I got my work done, which I didn’t. Ending the IOP was traumatic and I was upset for days. I couldn’t tell her what was happening and when I was finally going to she said something so offensive about a few of my friends that I wouldn’t. We got in a huge unrelated screaming fight a few nights ago. Today she said I wasn’t making sense. I’ll give her that. I tried very hard this evening to talk to her. I told her I’m losing time. I spent all my effort trying to explain what that means, what it’s like for me. (stare off into space) She picked up the remote and said, “What do you want to watch?” There was no response or discussion.

My therapist is doing his damndest, which I have to give him credit for. We’re in rough waters and even I don’t believe in me. For some reason he does. I feel horribly guilty for telling him the truth about what’s happening to me. I don’t want to be the girl who’s always in crisis. I mentioned something recently about working with and educating the police and he straight up laughed, said he would pay to see that, take the whole day off work. I don’t blame him. He’s never seen the side of me that can do that, just the one that’s freaking out.

I don’t know what there is to be scared of. I am so blessed. I live in a safe home with my mom who loves me. I have the most incredible team of providers I couldn’t even dream up and a steady source of income. On top of that, I have a God who loves and protects me no matter what I do and a group that’s got my back. I can let go but I’m afraid to lose control. I’m afraid of losing who I am.
Did who I am even matter?
Not really.
There you go.
I still feel confused and scared. God keeps telling me, “Go.” WHERE?!!
You’ll know.
Shut up.

I have to go to bed now. My goal is 12am and it’s 12:12am now. Thanks for listening to me vent. I hope you’re doing okay.

Michelle

Sound as Medicine

11/27/2015     8:45pm

I’m sitting at Dizzy’s with C-. I had forgotten the power of sound as medicine. I need to come back here. This is my home. Notes fill the air, float directly into my ears. Vibrations cut through my body leaving memories. I close my eyes and the healing is all around me. A broad bright smile comes over my face and I’m warm. I feel love.

I’ve missed it here. I used to come several days a week. I knew everyone. It was my getaway, what fed me, kept me going. But one day I just disappeared and 6 months passed before I realized there was something missing.  I’ve been hesitant, afraid to come back but it’s time. The music and its family are calling me. This place is full of healing and life, joy. Pain turns to sound & understanding. It’s okay just to be. It’s welcomed. Truth is okay. Truth is me. Welcome back to Dizzy’s.

When I came in I gave C- the biggest hug, then another. He sat down with me and got me a hot cocoa. I wish I had a dad. C- would be a great dad. Dr. H pointed out how much I really miss having a dad. I do.

A- just got here and Dr. C is schmoozing on a girl next to us. Weird. I’m thankful for Dizzy’s. Open-source healing, low copay, no limits. Amen.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2015

If you’re the prayin’ type…

3-27-14     10:30pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Michelle Routhieaux 2014

Fathers are people

4/4/12     11:55pm

What does it mean about me that I keep the only framed picture of my dad under a stack of pajamas in a dresser I never open? I just rediscovered it quite by accident. I can’t breathe.

SHAME. What does that mean about me? (crying)

The man never did anything to me. He’s been dead over 10 years. And I hide his picture. There are no pictures in my house, of anyone. Just empty picture frames. In the picture my dad looks happy, healthy. Half-smiling with his siblings. I just wanna hug him. Please, God. Please… Send him back to me. Like last year at jazz. I hear him. Not him healthy. But him.

The picture is of -, Dad, # & Danny. – doesn’t talk to me. Dad is dead. Danny killed himself. And I don’t know how to contact #. She doesn’t seem to hate me. I hated that picture because – sent it to me. But it’s special. The only pic I have of my dad healthy.

I wish he wasn’t a secret. That I could’ve shared my life with him instead of lying. Everything. Fathers are people not secrets. So are daughters. I didn’t want my mom to see the picture so I hid it. Guilt. Shame. Longing.

He’s not real. GET THAT AWAY FROM ME. (pause) Let me be. Please, I don’t want him to see me. I love you, Dad. Back in the drawer now.

I should plaster my walls with pictures. Start making life real.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2012

Happy People

12-21-11     10pm

Seeing happy people makes me really sad.

I sang at Sea World today. Major stress getting everything organized but the singing part was fun. Now I’m crashing – exhausted and sad.

There is a person who works the event that I really like. He is gay and taken, but I like him anyway. He has such a warm energy. I just watch him and I dream. Lately I feel very homely. I’m not sure if that’s the right word. I’m getting old. My life time is kicking in. I want to settle down. I want a partner. I want a family. I want to feel warm and safe, not as a child but a me. And when I see people like this guy, I wish I had one just like him in my life.

(Breathing…) But, I am me.
For some reason that cannot be. I don’t understand and I feel angry. And I eat more Chinese food. Then I just feel sad… So sad. That sad where everything is quiet and the tears don’t roll down my face. Even bad people have families. Why not me?

Happy people make me sad.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2011

But I want to like me

9-6-11     6:45pm
(written at a cognitive therapy lecture about procrastination) 

This lecture is confusing.
Too many ideas.
Thinking about the future, bills & organic food, & saving for the future makes me more nervous, more likely to procrastinate.

All these people are family.
I can’t help but compare me.
I don’t hang out with normal people ‘cuz they make me feel more crazy.

They do dishes. They read. They have families. Some of them work. Man, Come on. This lecture is not for folks who are crazy…

Crazy.

I consider myself crazy.
Not a word I think about.
I don’t consider myself “mentally ill.”
No, that’s scary.
I’m just crazy.

 I don’t think of it when I’m alone or when I’m with other people who are crazy. Or on the bus or trolley. Or when I’m in therapy. 
I really want to be close to other people but they make me feel crazy.

Good crazy. Bad crazy. Creepy crazy.
All different things. I like being crazy. But I want to like me.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2011 

I can’t fix it

11-26-10     1:26pm

I can’t fix it. No matter how hard I try. I am only worthy if I can fix it. Therefore I am worthless. I can’t fix it. I can’t.

Today my heart feels like it’s on fire. There’s no oxygen left and I’m suffocating. I went outside because my toes were numb from the cold. Dichotomy of lives. I had planned on Black Friday shopping. Instead I am here with my family. The guys are working. Mom’s raiding the house for stuff to send back. I’m not going with them. J- is close to starving. G’s house is infested with rats and mice and God knows what else. There is no money. There are few jobs. No hope. My heart, it hurts so bad. I love them and I can’t fix it… I can’t fix it.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2010

Stuff, Love & Family

11-29-10     1:03am

I feel like my heart has a whole in it. My room is empty and so am I.

I worked for several hours with M- today on organizing my room. We moved my chair into the living room and the bulk of my journals onto my bookcase. Now there is a large open space of floor. (breath) I hate it. I don’t want it there. Something should be there. I can’t handle the nothing. It’s too much.

I don’t have people (or historically haven’t) but I do have stuff. It doesn’t leave me. It doesn’t tell me I’m unworthy or make me feel like shit. I have stuff and the stuff are my memories. Most of my stuff is stuff I don’t need but I need the memories. And I need to feel safe, to be surrounded. I NEED love. But instead I have stuff. And when I get rid of the stuff it reminds me I am alone.

S- posted this week that she is grateful for the unconditional love of her grandparents. I don’t know this thing called unconditional love. I try to give it to others. I do my very best. But it is not something I learned as a child. Love had boundaries and rules, none of which were clearly explained. But the gist was, and mainly still is, that if I do good and act perfectly I might be loved. If not, I will most certainly not be loved. I may be hated and I should hate myself too. But good & perfect are undefined, although they lie just past what’s achievable. And should I achieve them, the consequent love is temporary. We love you and are proud of you. What are you going to do next? And when? We’re getting impatient. I try to love and accept people for who they are or be honest that I don’t.

I was thinking tonight about that nasty email my cousin sent me months ago. If she had listened to what I said, took the time to understand and set her judgments aside, she could’ve been less downright cruel. I did nothing to her. I did not put her down, dismiss her character, or place blame or shame. I expressed my feelings and my story. But she chose to tell me how I’m a disappointment to her and all this other crap. She doesn’t even know me. She shouldn’t even care. But she cared enough to send an email that I’ll never forget, just enough to hurt me out of spite. Such love.

The walls close in. At least they try. I feel like the force of the world is pushing against them and they’re just barely holding up. (I hear “Call the Man” by Celine Dion.) I am so cold. I talked to J- tonight. She is so strong and so scared. I wish I could help her. I wish that it wasn’t so cold.

(Rocking, trying to unnumb my toes with the heater, hearing “Austin,” thinking I am The Giving Tree. I don’t want to be.)

I should sleep. I see Dr. C tomorrow. I found Mr. M’s hundred dollars today. I don’t want to spend it on doctors. I want to spend it on me. I know that he’s helping but I can’t afford him. His helping is hurting me, as it helps me. Weird.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2010

Cold Sweat

10-16-10              11:10pm

Cold sweat. I feel overwhelmed. I don’t want to be alone, but I don’t want to be around people. I am exhausted but I don’t want to sleep. When my body won’t move, my mind won’t stop. When my mind won’t think, my body can’t rest. It’s cold and I’m sweating. The music in my head I don’t always understand and it’s all a blur. What is today?

Today, after sleeping for an hour, I worked a resource fair at a walk. I walked the 5K, talked to a girl who used to be my best friend and was reminded how much I miss her. When I am hungry I don’t know what to eat. When I am starving and wait a moment I forget. And when I get food, I don’t want to eat it. Or I can’t slow my eating enough to breathe.

The house is quiet tonight. I’ve been looking through pictures. Not the ones I wanted to be looking through. There are so many rolls that don’t matter. I really don’t give a shit about the 12,000 dance conventions I went to and every dance and every scene of every nutcracker. They don’t matter. They’re not my life. It is the people I remember. And it does feel good to remember. I forget so much these days that remembering exactly what happened on a particular day 15 years ago feels good. I left my purse at Chili’s the other night. I usually remember my purse and forget the food, but not this time. And I had no idea I’d left it until I tried to spend money. And it didn’t faze me. I didn’t really care.

Cold sweat. Trapped in my own body, my mind. Looking for pictures of me and my dad. I want to see him. I want to line up the progression, to watch it. My knowledge and experiences change the perspective so much. He can’t stay hidden. I don’t want him to be a secret anymore. He doesn’t even have a headstone. For that I feel ashamed. A bad daughter… In reality, just a daughter with no money. (deep breath)

I can’t keep running from myself. I am tired. So tired. 24/7 distraction is not sustainable. My therapist assumed my agitation is mostly from the whole mystery disease thing, but it’s not. When I wake up in the morning I’m not calm. I get these waves of stress/anxiety/agitation that aren’t connected to anything. I wasn’t particularly upset or triggered yesterday and I got so agitated that I was literally walking in circles in my backyard for 15 minutes. I don’t understand. (breath) I’m not sure I want to. I just want it to go away.

My therapist also asked what would happen if my symptoms never got any better or worse, stayed the same as they are now, and I lived to be 100. I think that would be the worst of all. For now, cold sweat.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2010

Family

5-23-10                 6ish pm

I invite – to do things occasionally. She never comes, which is fine. She does a lot of things with her family. She mentions her grandmother and godmother. It makes me wonder.

What is life like with a family? What is it like to have holidays and birthdays? Gatherings of people you will always have some connection to? I know families can get stressful and ugly, but I’d like to experience one that’s not.

I don’t really know how a family’s supposed to work. It was just me and my mom and eventually the cat. I would steal Mags’ words that my mom is an emotional cactus, but cacti are predictable. My mom’s more like a Venus fly trap. She’s all nice and beautiful until you get close enough to touch and then she eats you alive.

Dad was always a stress and seeing G- rarely less than traumatic. Holidays involved driving and guilt and many gifts. We spent some at my adopted grandma’s with her crazy family, some at home, some at my best friend’s house. But I never belonged. They’re not my family.

2:25am

I don’t know what it’s like to have more than one blood relative to choose from to list as an emergency contact, to have children around, or to witness a relationship of any kind. I have a family. They just don’t have me. You know? I don’t understand how it’s supposed to be.