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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Have you Smiled yet?

1/14/2017     1:06am

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

jamies_hope_amazon_smiles-3

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

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

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

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

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

© Michelle Routhieaux 2017

Is no one else upset?

9/30/16  1:57pm

cajon_custom-7164ab9a3a6a90cc9d89f557696d1cfcdfac2d09-s400-c85I feel awful, and not just because I feel awful.

You may have heard there was another cop shooting this week where the cops killed an unarmed black man. Seems to be a fad these days. I hear them on the radio and they are upsetting but they are far from me, beyond my ability to affect or be a part of. But this one was 2 miles from my house at a taco shop between the vet I go to and the place I buy frozen yogurt. AND this person wasn’t just black, he was crazy.

(*For those of you who take offense to the word “crazy” or believe it promotes stigma, I don’t care. I am proud to be crazy myself and I use the word openly. The term “mentally ill” makes me MUCH more uncomfortable.)

That said, this man was crazy. His sister called for help, made it clear that her brother was not okay. After almost an hour a non-PERT team was sent to the scene and killed him. You can read the details in this article. The officer with extensive psych training responded appropriately by tazing the man. The other one shot the guy. He’s dead.

Immediately the Black Lives Matter movement and NAACP stepped in. Churches, vigils, protests, marches. Only last night did the events become violent. More is planned for tonight and something big on Saturday, though I don’t know what they are or how to find out the details.

I WANT TO BE INVOLVED. My mom says to stay away from all of that. My contact with the police replied somewhat cryptically to my response. My basic interpretation is, “Stay away from that, Michelle.” There are complaints about violence and I hear people look down on those acting out, but I don’t blame them. What else is there to do? What channel is there for expressing extreme anger and distress? for requesting help and change from a virtually impenetrable source? Of course there will be violence eventually. And it’s the only thing that proves effective right now. It makes the news, gets the word out, releases emotion and sometimes causes officials to actually do something they want or need done, like release information.

(watch live feed of press conference and release of video of shooting, approx 40 mins)

Wow. I’m really glad I live in a city that’s so coordinated and connected and prepared (somewhat) for things like this. The distress of the police chief came through the screen. He did a great job. I’m grateful someone asked about PERT and why PERT did not respond… (watch more, read more)

It’s upsetting to me that cops kill people. I try to avoid them at all costs when I’m not at a PERT Academy or similar event. They scare me. They kill people like me for being me. I’m upset that there is way more focus on the man being black than being in a mental health crisis. I’m upset that there’s no rallying behind the family by a national organization like NAMI or DBSA. I’m upset that only today, 3 days after the shooting, did anything related to the shooting show up on my support group FB group. I don’t watch the news but this is unavoidable. Someone heard SOMETHING. Is no one else upset? Does no one else also believe that crazy lives matter too? This event has implications for consumers, family & friends, and the community at large but I’ve receive no calls. I’ve gotten no emails from organizations locally stepping out saying what happened was if not wrong at least really fucked up and didn’t have to end that way. No condolence emails. No vigil notifications. I can’t even seem to find information on the civil rights-related events planned or happening. It’s like it doesn’t exist.

Meanwhile, I sit here wondering what to do. I want to be a part of change. I want to be able to take some action, to make a difference. That doesn’t happen on Facebook or lying on the floor. I don’t want to be one of the people who just stands by, who places their own safety above the greater good. I get mad at my mom for avoiding meaningful rallies and events because of danger. I don’t understand how she lived through the 60s and 70s and never joined a protest. It makes me angry. I walk toward the fire for things I believe in. I’m not afraid to die. But in this case I don’t know how. I don’t want to get injured at a protest. I don’t even know where to find them. I don’t want to miss out. I don’t want to be aloof or to put myself first. I want IN. How do I get there?

All the time I spend networking and talking to people, forming alliances and gathering info is my greatest addition to change, aside from crisis intervention. Here somehow that doesn’t feel adequate. It’s not enough. And no complaint form or grievance or blog post will fix that. I feel really sad.

I asked my PERT person these rhetorical questions:
  • What am I supposed to tell my people?
  • What do I tell my consumers to try and remember to do or not do while in crisis to not get shot? (aside from the ERP list)
  • What do I tell them when they freak out even more when someone does call because now they’re terrified of being shot too just for being in crisis?
  • What do I tell my family & friends people when they want to know if it’s still safe to call 911 and hope for PERT?
  • What do I tell them to make this okay?
  • What do I tell all the sisters and relatives who now don’t want to ask for help because they don’t want to kill their loved one?

For some reason my people don’t seem upset. I’m not getting FB posts or phone calls or texts. I’m not even getting concern from people about the 2 deaths at a popular independent living this week – murder/suicide. Is everyone asleep?

I don’t know. I just want what I do to matter regarding this. I’m not a sit on the sidelines type of person. I’m crazy and I want change. I want to matter. I want to feel safe in my home and my city. I want to be me.

http://www.democracynow.org/2016/9/29/protests_continue_in_san_diego_after

http://www.cnn.com/2016/09/30/us/california-police-shooting-video/

© Michelle Routhieaux 2016

Update from the Farm

11-8-15     2:55pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love, Michelle

© Michelle Routhieaux 2015

I Want to Be Well

med box-big

My daily meds

1/16/14     10:54am

I want to be well.
I want to be well.

I just left physical therapy. I had tachycardia during some of the exercises. 10 step-downs shouldn’t send my heart rate to 140, making me shaky, dizzy & weak. I told the guy working with me. He asked if I have a heart condition. Yes, but it’s not properly worked up or treated.

I want to be well. I want to dance. Hell, I want to be able to walk up stairs to DBT without a problem. I’m tired of being sick. I take so many pills and am so limited. People look from the outside and say I’m so functional and assume I’m doing well. THIS IS NOT MY LIFE.

I take 27 pills a day, plus any of my needed 10 PRN options. I have 6 support groups, 4 therapy groups, 2 pdoc appts, 2 other doc appts, and 8 therapy sessions a month. Right now I also have 2 PT appts/week. I understand these things are keeping me going, but they’re not my life. I help people and go to church and sing in 2 choirs. I still want to die. I’m working the PERT Academy in 2 hours. No one will know. And since Angela’s not there there will be no refuge. It’s all a lie. Smile and move on. Somehow, I’m still here.

I wasn’t supposed to live. Don’t you understand?

© Michelle Routhieaux 2014

Time to be me

9-16-13     9:32am

I’m tired. And I’m having money problems. Second month in a row. (sigh) No doubt due to the fact that I can’t think and I’m spending money without remembering. My house is dirty. Literally. There is cat poop in the tub, dirt on the floor, dishes piled up, papers and blankets everywhere. Not due to my mom at all. Usually when she goes out of town the house slowly looks wonderful. This time it’s looking more like my dorm room close to the end at USC. I don’t know what to do. My calendar is chock full. I need rest.

I have an assessment today to join an outpatient DBT group. I really just want a nap. And to wake up to a magically clean house. I am tempted to ask for help with my home from my FB or group friends. I just haven’t. I don’t want to be in this situation. I feel like a hypocrite – the one

(stupid fucking blender refuses to work)

– who helps others learn to clean and organize but has fallen to ruin herself. I need help. I need God.

I feel the need to cancel everything on my calendar this week. It doesn’t seem possible. I need the Comfort Drive stuff OUT of my living room. I love the drive, love the movement. I need it gone. It is a wall, a literal wall. I feel like my eyes are melting. My doctor thinks maybe I’m falling apart because I’m on birth control. I don’t care why I’m disintegrating. I just need it to stop. I need. Please. Please.

(quiet)

I bought new lamps yesterday. They make me feel grounded. A miracle is happening here. The lady in the mirror is different. She is catty and brilliant. I have not seen her in years. Just breathe. It’s time to meet 15, hold her hand, bring her closer.Teach her how to live healthfully. Bring her out of shame.

I am sleepy. I need food. I need to go shopping.

I need the boxes out of my living room.
Time to be me.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2013

Incubation vs Hibernation

9-3-13     2:22pm

I was thinking about my life today while driving to Eastlake for a pickup. My doctor says I’m making so much progress, that he knew I had potential but never expected me to come this far. But where am I? Where am I going?

I’m not headed in any particular direction. It’s a day to day struggle to stay alive. I’m not in school pursuing a career. I don’t have a husband or kids. I’m floating, stagnant, goal-less. Well, I do have 2 goals but I’m not doing very well on them. I’m temped to starve to death or maybe just walk in circles. When I think about it I freak out. (deeep breath) Is this the end of the yellow brick road?

The word incubation came to mind followed by hibernation. I have stopped almost all events and responsibilities. I am tired. But I don’t think I’m hibernating. I am largely motionless but I am being nurtured and growing. This pause in my life is productive. My mind is catching up to me.

I feel very nauseous, head pain, weak.

I am incubating. If I don’t die, I’ll hatch. I will arise into my new life and follow the path wherever God leads me.

I’m scared to leave this place. I’m not moving forward. I am being carried. The angels are around me. My breath…

Incubation is painful like physical therapy. I am stretched and molded and melted, filed and rearranged. My body is trying to kill me. Maybe I need to die to live.

I really feel faint.
I need to lie down.
And see Dr. Collan.

Right now I feel panic like last night. I’m hovering on a subject so painful, raw. I want to go back to USC.

WHY did you take that life from me?
Why even show me or care?

My life is over. I want a new one. I want to die.

FG – If the new life was different but as fulfilling as the old one, would you stick around?

Hell, yeah.
I need. I just don’t know what. 
Jesus.

I’ve walked right out of my shoes. Now I walk on air – off-lifing. Where am I headed, running in circles in an incubator. I’m not ready to leave. But I’m close. I want a better life, to be free. That’s progress. In hibernation I shut down and rest. It rarely involves conscious growth.

I’m helping S- tonight. I’d rather be working on the Comfort Drive. I need to prepare for my mom’s trip and I need someone to help me improve my backing.

I feel overwhelmed but I’m here, incubating. I will be here as long as it takes. God help me.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2013

Since 2009

8/13/13     3:18pm

What’s different now than in ’09 with Marc? I’m embracing the fact that I’m alone. Dr. N taught me that not all people leave and that I can be safe. Jim taught me how to face my fears through ERP instead of cognitive reasoning. DBT gave me a set of skills to use when I’m freaking out that work. I became closer to God and reassessed my priorities and relationships when I thought I was going to die. I started developing a sense of self. Now I am not so desperate and needy. I started developing systems to get me through the day and track my progress. I faithfully attended DBSA both sharing and learning new tools. I surrendered the pain and defined acceptance. I started doing things for me, in particular attending jazz gigs and making friends with non-crazy (or at least non-diagnosed) people. I gave up and found life. My mom is nicer to me now. I rarely scream or freak out or run away. I use assertiveness daily. I don’t take bullshit anymore. My need for an intense attachment to one person has diminished greatly. I feel more safe, supported. I’ve learned and practiced more boundaries. I’ve moved away from the cognitive approach. I stopped going to school. I found a doctor and therapist who meet my needs. I need the hospital less. My HD phase has passed. I am free.

I forgot to tell Dr. N today that I’ve been thinking about school. I want my degree. I think I’m ready. I think I’d like to major in social work. I should try WRAP and PET first both as prerequisites and to see if I could handle it. I think I might. I don’t think I’m ready for full or part-time. Maybe one class at a time. I have scholarship money I need to use…

(walk around)

I stood up for myself when threatened at Scripps. I walked away stronger, determined. I took care of me.

I learned to say no and to say yes. I’m doing much better with change – if you can imagine. I’ve dealt with health issues bigger than me. I’ve been broken and risen up again, not through ashes but rules. I learned how to observe and listen, to practice empathy. I catch myself earlier in the process so I don’t blow. I’m learning to stand on my own.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2013 

27

SAMSUNG5-3-13     10:12am

27. Mom thinks it’s the magic number, the number when everything clicked. Really, it’s just a number. Although I hear ____ say, “27. Now that was a good year.”

I turned 27 March of this year. It was not a remarkable day – appointment, lunch with Mom, major crash, terrible pain, OCD group. But my mom says something around then changed. She attributes all my recent growth to a number. Figures. She’s been in Texas. Today I feel great. A little dizzy, awake. Change is hard work.

A month or so before my birthday I spent 3 weeks in the hospital (see “Even Dark Clouds Pass.”) When I got out I was still going through it. The time since then has been fireworks. For the first time in years I started an antidepressant. I added structure & a complex schedule. I updated my day list and started using it. It is a list of things I do every day in the morning and evening that I keep in a page protector and check off with a dry erase marker. And I started BrainPaint, which I believe to be the key to my success.

BrainPaint. A simple notion. Painting with your brain. Ha ha! Not so fast, my friend. I paint with my brain indeed. BrainPaint is automated neurofeedback. EEG leads tell the computer what my brain is doing and the computer makes real-time fractals (pictures) and music to guide my brain into the wave pattern it wants. Forget training a dragon. Train your brain!

I’m doing BrainPaint at Healthy Within under Dr. Divya Kakaiya. She determined what areas we could work on. I’m almost through my treatment. I don’t want to stop. I go 3 times a week. I consider it an outpatient program even though it’s not. It’s not all peaches & cream, but BrainPaint saved my life.

I feel tired of writing.

I have 3 pages of what’s changed since BrainPaint that I may choose to share here later. Most notably, I don’t want to die every day anymore. I’m sleeping, brushing my teeth (yay!), and can tolerate being at home. Kinda crazy. I even got my permit. I am blessed that my mom was in Texas for the past month. Without limits or rules or judgement or simply the energy of another person I’ve been able to settle into life, to blossom. I’ve been repotted.

27. I like it.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2013

Even dark clouds pass

3/8/13     7:31 amP1170855

I just woke up to pouring rain. It’s my birthday. I take this as a sign God is washing away my pain. From the comfort of my bed I see blue sky under the dark dark clouds and it’s taking over the sky. It never left. It was just temporarily covered.

I am warm, comfy in bed propped up against three pillows in a soft shirt my friend gave me and my Cookie Monster pants. Bright orange and pink socks on matching palm tree sheets. God is good.

I got out of the hospital on the 15th. Nineteen days. The most painful experience of my life, to my conjecture. And probably the best. 19 days. I don’t want to forget those days.

I went in for a severe mixed episode, rapid cycling from suicidal & lethargic to euphoric or agitated energy about every 20 minutes. I had two doctors because Dr. N was on vacation the first week. Dr. H was great. She put me on a new med that calmed the cycling but it caused such bad muscle problems that I could barely walk. I had dystonia in my legs, stomach & back. But my mood was great. At first. Until the pain wore on me and I couldn’t take it anymore.

When my doctor came back (sunshine) we stopped all my meds in 2 days to start over, find a baseline. We’d reached a deadlock. Ah, the pain. We expected either my body would get better and my mind would get better or my body would get better and my mind would freak out and we’d fix it.

Instead, my mind did much better than expected and my body flipped out. (remembering) Pain. Attacks of being stabbed in the neck with burning knitting needles that would break like thunder into muscle spasms all over my body. Out of control blood pressure. Random spikes in bp and pulse. The muscle spasms at night hurt so bad I couldn’t move or talk. They became constant. My face twitched so bad I couldn’t see straight, made me dizzy. My fingers were constantly tingling & freezing. My feet tingled. The roof of my mouth tingled. I wasn’t sleeping or eating. I became frail, which was pleasing to me but angered my doctor. I hid under the table from the voice in my head, heard an unfamiliar one for the first in a long time. My hands would stop working & turn cold and purple. My doctor didn’t know what to do.

God sent me angels. I could see and feel them with me. He spoke to me. He came as a hummingbird. All around me was God and I was never alone. I cried out to Him to take me home. I was so scared but He was not. He told me, through the words of my mouth and a cloud, “Don’t take your eyes off me. It is written,” quite firmly. I knew the storm was coming. I didn’t see the glory. Before each spike in pain I would hear God’s song. He gave me music. Calming songs would start before and play through and my angels were with me. I was never alone. Heart racing, shaking, body writhing, unable to breathe. They would ask if I was nervous, having a panic attack. No. I felt calm.

Many days of this wore on me. With no psych meds my mood was all over. I wanted to die. We started adding back in meds, building a new ground. The staff were amazing & my fellow patients priceless. Friends. Something finally clicked and I was ready to come home.

Which brings us to now – 3 weeks later. It is my birthday and I feel good. I can’t remember the last birthday I felt good or even semi-ok. Last year I screamed and cried and refused to get out of the car and slept most of the day, reclused. Today I feel good. It’s morning and I am awake. The birds are chirping. My kitty is watching. The clouds part and I feel JOY. Praise God!

This whole experience has drawn me closer to Him. I’m listening. I’m paying attention. I joined a church choir and am reading “The Story.” I don’t feel as scared. I’m taking care of my body, trying to lose some weight. I even want to decorate my room. Goals seem possible.

A different life seems possible too. I don’t feel trapped. I get to choose what to do and what not to. I can move in any direction. That said, I am still exhausted. Trying on shoes last night knocked me out. I am exhausted but not weary. I see the light. Praise God.

May 27 be the best year yet.
My goal is to LIVE.
My theme: Break the Rules.

Even dark clouds pass.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2013

My Brain is a Beach Ball

(writing from the hospital)
2-3-13     9:20am

I was just sitting in morning meeting thinking. A 2″x 2″ metal square is depressing the front of my brain. It has a nice matte dark finish. It’s pressing on my brain. Impairing, altering my ability to think. Throwing off track the course of my eyes. Making me want to die.

I began to desire the removal of this pressing weight, but my brain might float away as it’s done in the past. Filled with the glory of the Spirit and the creativity of a child. To twirl and leap in the sunshine, to build empires in the night. To despair and fall into self-destruction from harnessing such energy.

(distraction)

I certainly don’t want that, though it’s fun for a night. Like a beach ball flying up in the air when you fall off to the side.

I started thinking of the beach ball, of its resting state. It doesn’t require compression, being held under water, and it doesn’t float away – if cared for properly. I suppose proper genetics and nurturing allow a beach ball to progress without incident. But if it’s stabbed or over or under-inflated or dried out or forgotten, you never know. Under tremendous pressure it will pop. It may also take on water very slowly, become ever so much heavier until one day it is deemed unusable and its human walks away.
My brain is a beach ball.

My brain is beautiful. Beautiful in its complexities and creativities and jerks. In its random fuck yous and kindnesses and deep appreciations. In its expression of itself and God to others. I sometimes want to hide it. I feel ashamed. I hold it under water and I pray for it to die. I hide it in the shed. I drag it through the rocks. I leave it in the sun. The damn thing is indestructible. I don’t know why it loves me. I don’t know why it sticks around.

For some reason my brain has yet to kill me or allow myself to do it. It hasn’t banned me from knowing how or walking through it many times. It just says, “Not now.” God says, “Not now.” I trust Him. He sent Dr. Harvey to sit with me last night. My brain has never left me. I have altered it, drugged it into submission, injured it, begged & pleaded. It has a passion for life. For learning and love. It holds tight all the things I’ve let go of for me, all the things I’ve forgotten. It tucks away what I can’t tolerate. My brain is amazing. I love my brain.

I really hope they can help me here to make a safe zoo for my beach ball brain so the world will be fun and I can think but I’ll be okay. I so want to be okay. Please help me be okay. Someone is standing on my brain.

My brain is a beach ball.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2013

Me

(Note – Yes, I am safe.)
1-6-13     6:30pm

Just got home from RENT. I went with Taylor. Cried through most of it. Exhausted now.

I miss Brandon. I miss my theater family. I miss being me. All of the goodness that I am now isn’t ME.  I miss Sarah and Mr. B, knowing I had a role, a purpose. All of that was taken from me.

It’s something we never talk about in therapy. We talk about sense of self. We don’t talk about me. Is it too late to get her back? Is she gone forever? Is the opportunity gone for me to be me? I so desperately need me.

Please.

healing card - therapyI pulled a healing card today that says this, “It’s important not to get stuck in therapy. Therapy is a necessary boat that takes you across a rough river to a new shore. In time, though, you must step out of the boat and onto new earth and never look back.” There is a passage with it about not carrying the raft forever and being wary of letting supports be a substitute for life.

I don’t understand. Illness took me. Therapy took my life. Therapy forced illness to cough part of me up and became my life. I can’t get the real me back. If I let go of groups and therapy I have nothing.

I wish someone had warned me, told me, “Don’t let go! Not for anything.” But they didn’t. They were living. Now I am scared to breathe.

A little girl wants me to teach her to dance. I’m terrified. Please don’t touch me. You don’t understand.

Who am I?

I am a little girl.
I am a friend.
I am a dancer.
I am an artist.
I am a patient.
I am a child of God.
I am me.
I am not what I feel.

(“I’ll Cover You”)

I want to scream out, “PLEASE HELP ME! Someone’s taken my soul!” But no one’s there to listen, only hear.

If I can’t be who I was, I don’t want to live at all.

You couldn’t tolerate the stress of who you were.

I can’t tolerate the stress of now.

Touche.
Take your AZT.

I think if I got into a show it would bring me back. I would find me again. I NEED me.

Me is dead. She is gone.

No she’s not! I saw her last week.

Elvis has left the building.

My head hurts.
I want to die.

I know.
Do you honestly think in your state of mind you could do it?

I’ve done it before.

But not with the physical ailments.

True.
What am I supposed to do?
I can’t do this anymore.

Sing, take drugs & teach.
Work your way up.
Peanuts to packing peanuts.

Fuck that.
When do we start?

I want to die.

I know.
I’m tired.

Triggers

Theater
RENT memories
B- memories
USC memories
shame about my life
missing Sarah
believing I can never have me back

Vulnerability Factors

Janet’s death
pre-existing severe depression
exhaustion
allergies/infection
headaches
holidays

Thankful Taylor is texting me. Need to take – and -.
Make a plan, Michelle. You can do this.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2013

Pondering imaginary dragons…

9-6-12     12:14am

I find myself pondering imaginary dragons tonight and sending long poetic FB messages to people I barely know. About imaginary dragons. “Leverage” is on the tv and my cat’s in the window behind me. So much is going on.

I haven’t been writing because I haven’t been writing. Nothing seems to make sense. Not all of which is a bad thing. But most of which is rather trite. Or is that trifling? I’m not sure.

My mom’s boyfriend is staying with us. A love story for sure, except the part where I live with it. Everything is changing. I gave Zoe a tampon (in the wrapper) tonight to play with. She’s having a ball.

I want to write witty or poignant pieces to share with the world. Most days recently I’m working on just thinking. The blog crosses my mind without substance and I let it go. But writing about dragons tonight was, for a moment, in the right voice. And then it passed. Wisdom and truth from the voice in my head. This is what she says:

“About imaginary dragons… Sometimes what we train for is not what we’re meant to do. And the skills we learn are not for the purpose that we learned them. And sometimes windmills are shapeshifting dragons. And sometimes dragons aren’t dragons at all. But your dragon’s existence doesn’t hinge on your belief in it…”

She is smart. I miss her.

I really enjoyed choir tonight. Singing with my choir and my people are healing. So was the carne asada burrito.

I ramble a lot lately. I don’t make much sense. I can’t remember things and I can’t concentrate and I don’t really care. I go back and forth between uber confused and really agitated. Mood’s good when I’m confused most of the time. I type well with my eyes shut but not with them open. When I can’t stop staring at the ceiling I’m extra confused. I sing and talk to myself and rock. I am functionally impaired. The writing doesn’t come.

My old doctor was nice to me today, congratulated me on my success with my group. Then he backed me into a corner. I didn’t show my anger, just my confusion. I bypassed his request/rule and left. But all the memories came flooding back. This man who didn’t help me, who made me SO angry, whom I couldn’t leave for 5 years thanks to his prescribing, was nice to me. I had to leave. I walked around the parking lot talking to myself for awhile. Unresolved past now in the present. Imaginary dragons. Isn’t everything imaginary?

Do you ever just stare at things and utter seemingly meaningless sentences to hummingbirds or air? I can count backwards from 100 by 3 or 7 just fine. It’s counting back by 1 that gets tricky. Do you have change for a ten? I can’t find it. People just don’t get why I can’t handle change. IT’S NOT SAFE. I have enough trouble navigating the world with a constant set of rules. Quit fucking around. I’ve got mail to open.

My sequin shirt doesn’t fit now. What a shame. I like bacon. Do you like unicorns? I need to dye one purple. There’s a guy I like. I think he likes me too. So I ponder imaginary unicorns. Or was it dragons? I’m not sure. Maybe one day soon I’ll be writing with substance again. Until then, yogurt for all.

From the unicorn base,
M

PS – If I haven’t told you already, Icees from Target are quite helpful when I’m very upset. So is wandering. I wander a lot. ;)

PPS – (stare and listen…)

© Michelle Routhieaux 2012

I want to fall in

7-2-12     8:04pm

I am SO tired. I skipped group tonight, which I rarely do. My body is rebelling. I don’t blame it.

I did some work for a friend today, helped with some organizing and grounding. I knew about halfway through I needed to stop but I stuck it out. I wrapped up nicely and went on my merry way. But I was barely breathing and in full body freakout mode and when I got to my other friend’s house (Mj) my legs gave up on walking right and then came the dizziness and head pain. I am so tired that it’s hard to stay upright, yet I’m not sleepy. I can’t explain it. Mj understands. I really enjoyed staying with her, having some moments to myself.

I find myself questioning if doing this work (helping) is worth it. Is helping and getting out of my house and my head and being somewhat social worth the toll it takes on mind and body? My friend doesn’t know what I’m going through and it’s hard for me to explain. Hard to explain why 4 hours of help causes massive body shutdown. Why I can organize and create systems but not eat. Why I LOOK fine when I’m really not. And it’s harder for me to say, “Hey, I’m not ok.” (tears) I want to be ok. I REALLY want to be ok. I don’t want to be a secret and I don’t want to be a lie. And I don’t want to feel ashamed… But I do. So I just press through it and deal with the fallout. I want to fall in.

I went walking with Mj and her dog a few times. It felt really good. I just got home to my mom on the phone with her boyfriend and Zoe. I don’t want to be here. (deep breath and tears) I can’t make it go away.

I’m so tired. My face burns and I’m tired.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2012

Cheetos in a teacup

3-30-12     4:23am

Sometimes I wonder why I’m still awake at four o’clock in the morning, like tonight as I sit here eating my Cheetos out of a teacup. Chip bags are just annoying. And then something happens. Something always happens. Right as I started to think about heading for bed I got a crisis FB message. Now I’m chatting with said friend.

The conversation reminded me of something my doctor told me a few weeks ago. He said he doesn’t believe that I’m going to get better. I let the comment slide. Had I been feeling particularly awful it could’ve pushed me over the edge. But I’m not. It was actually helpful. After feeling upset for awhile, I decided that if I’m not going to get better I might as well have fun where I’m at. I don’t have to like it, but I don’t have to feel tortured by not healing. I spend an enormous amount of time and energy trying to figure out what’s wrong with me and how to fix it. It’s exhausting. It goes in waves. Energy, answer-seeking, exhaustion, loss of hope, lull, happy, hopeless, desperate, repeat. I’m not abandoning the cycle completely, but right now I’m not searching. I’m coping. My goal is to start LIVING.

Wow. What a concept. I don’t really understand this living thing. It’s always been about getting better and doing worse and fending off death. Or hastening death. But never about life… (ponder as I continue my crisis chat)

I never thought I’d live to be this old. 26. People say it’s a small number, that I’m young. I don’t see it that way. When I was little my dad had Huntington’s Disease. It’s a nasty illness that basically eats your brain and you die. And there was a good chance that I had it too. It wasn’t an option to consider the future. I still don’t even really understand what that means. So it baffles me when I realize I’m 26. Half the time (really more) I don’t remember how old I am and people think I’m either dramatically older or younger, depending on the day.

I’m not sure I want to embrace the concepts of life or future. It’s almost safer to just have now. If I expect to live ’til I’m 40 and then become terminally ill at 30, I’m gonna be pissed. But if I only expected to live ’til yesterday, it’s a prize. You know? They say life’s a bitch, but it’s much quieter.

Anyway, there’s always a reason that pops up when I think there’s no reason. Tonight it was a good one. I just wish my teacup of Cheetos was bottomless. DAMN! I just remembered I wanted to try eating them with chopsticks. Do I even own chopsticks? I don’t know.

It’s 4:45am and I can feel the wave of energy come over me. I would call it psychomotor agitation but it’s not unpleasant, more like a hyper puppy waiting to play. I still follow the sunrise rule but it’s dark out. I guess my internal sunrise comes sooner. That or I’m sensitive to Cheetos and crisis. I feel like a teenage girl about to meet Justin Beiber. Seriously. Only I’m alone in my kitchen talking to my invisible computer friends. Maybe one of them’s Justin Beiber. Could be. You never know. He could be randomly googling the Panda Express kids meal, which is oddly the number one thing people google to get to this blog. Who knew? Eat a kids meal, get new readers. Works for me. All for the low price of $4.95. Sweet. And sour. ;)

Gosh I’m bored. This darkness sunrise makes my thoughts race. I need to bounce up and down and yell and shout and sing and MOVE. AHHHHHHHHHHHH! (deep breath) I should take my night meds.

I’m 26. I found a Subway today that still carries regular mayonnaise. Thank the good Lord. And the bad one too. I’ve yet to learn how to be a kid but it’s on my to do list. Workin’ on it. I should take my night meds. Stream of consciousness. Does a body good… So does Oscar the Grouch, and drugs, and Cheetos in a teacup. Here’s to hoping my friend lives.

Love, Michelle

© Michelle Routhieaux 2012