Make friends with Fear

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© Michelle Routhieaux 2018

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Stroke Code Thursday

2/1/18 11:07pm

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

How to Disengage

1/25/18     12:04pm

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.

  • I DO NOT want to be friends.
  • I DO NOT want any contact. If there is an emergency, go through someone else.
  • I am NOT your “hope.” I will NEVER be your “hope.”
  • What you’re doing is HURTING me.
  • THIS IS NOT OKAY.

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

Secondary

(journal excerpt)

7/10/17     6:22pm

…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

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

Take Back the Breath

6/30/16 Own your breathI’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:

Dear M-,

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.

Boundaries Needed

  • Please do not call, text, email, FB message, other instant message, comment on my blog or communicate with me in any other way except for true emergencies (impending or imminent death) or about DBSA business matters no other board member can answer or solve.
  • At DBSA meetings, please choose a different room than I’m in.
  • At board meetings, please stick to business.
  • I do not want to work outreach together.
  • At the VA MH Council, please stick to business and be professional.
  • Please do not attempt to contact me through someone else.
  • At church, please sit in a different pew.
  • I do not want to pick up the refugee family anymore.
  • Please do not come to choir practice just to see me unless you intend to join the choir.
  • Stop asking my permission to do or attend things.
  • Stop bringing me gifts.
  • I don’t want to salsa with you.
  • I don’t want to “hang out” or listen. You have other support.
  • I don’t want to be chased or to have a 3rd run at our relationship.
  • I don’t want to be your friend (by your definition).
  • I don’t want to go to couples counseling.
  • I think it would be better if you didn’t call me from rehab.

What is okay:

  • Basic interactions at church
  • Contact about DBSA business
  • Contact re: life & death crises (in progress, imminent death)
  • It is okay to write to me snail mail from rehab if you want.
  • I am willing to work with the staff at rehab if needed.

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.

With respect,
Michelle

(deep breath)
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