Sunday (vent)

4/30/2017     12:32pm

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.
Happy Sunday.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2017

FUCK YES

1/27/17     12:09pm

I am SOOO ANGRY. And I slept 22.5 hours last night so I have plenty of energy to direct that way. I managed at least to scream “FUCK YOU!” after hanging up the phone.

I called the Coordinated Care Initiative line for the State of California. They are supposed to handle the conversion to and exemption of dual eligibles (those of us eligible for both Medicare and MediCal) from the new managed care requirements in this lovely state. The only easy way out of this requirement is to have HIV/AIDS or be an American Indian. I’m tempted.

What am I talking about?

Medicare is the health insurance offered to most seniors and people on disability (after 2 years). It’s hard to find a specialist that takes it but there are many useful hospitals that take it for medical and psych. There is a 190 day inpatient limit for psych days at a free-standing hospital. (When I’m better I shall be tackling this.)

MediCal is California’s version of Medicaid (federal health program for poor people.) It is near impossible to find a skilled clinician, if they give you a doctor at all instead of an intern, on MediCal. It is a good net if you have non-specific or only emergency medical needs but if you have chronic medical conditions and/or psych needs and have only MediCal, you’re screwed. In some clinics it’s better to be completely uninsured and pay a sliding-scale amount and see a good doctor. Having MediCal (and Medicare for that matter) also usually exempt you from prescription discount programs offered by manufacturers, even though formularies are scant.

If you have both Medicare and MediCal, MediCal won’t pay for any fee that is above what Medicare determines they should be paying your clinician – no matter how far below industry standard or just human dignitiy would allow. Yet our great state of CA decided that being covered fully by both insurances was just too much. In Jan 2014 they started a “demonstration period” of what’s called the “Coordinated Care Initiative” and started forcing people into either CalMediConnect (a program that pushes you into an HMO that rolls your Medicare and MediCal into one, SIGNIFICANTLY limiting your benefits) or whatever Medicare you already have plus being forced into a MediCal Managed Care Plan HMO. I opted out of this “demonstration” in the very complicated and hard to find way they barely provided as I watched the change mess up countless lives.

Then a few weeks ago I got a similar packet in the mail. I did some research online finding that the demonstration period ended Jan 2017 but no info on what the outcome was, whether it saved money, links to the actions taken by our government to expand or make it permanent. Nothing. Someone from CCI called to enroll me in a plan Wednesday since I hadn’t mailed in the form. I explained that I had no intention of joining an HMO because it would complicate and jeopardize my care and she told me where to find an exemption form. But the form says it’s only for people who don’t have another insurance. So I called back today.

I won’t lie. I’d be happy if this man’s head exploded and a MediCal doctor was left to piece it back together. He tried to convince me I wasn’t being forced into an HMO. FALSE. Then he told me I’d qualify for a non-medical exemption but failed to mention the American Indian or HIV/AIDS part right away. I asked about the demonstration period and where I could find information. “We’re just the enrollment center. That’s the state… That’s not my department. That’s not my issue,” he said. He kept coming back to trying to tell me my doctors wouldn’t be affected by joining a Managed Care Plan. Then he went and said it. “Well, if the only reason your doctor won’t see you is because of the extra time it takes to do MediCal paperwork, is that really a doctor you want to be seeing?”

YES!!!

How much more of a fucking idiot could he be?!! Just how they want them at the CCI office I bet. I told him, “YES!” Those are the doctors who have time to hear what’s going on, who listen to my situation, who have experience and choose to actually get paid for it instead of working for free or just supervising 10 interns at a time as they run around the office “practicing” medicine. FUCK YES.

Aside from just being rich, Medi-Medi with fee-for-service MediCal was the best insurance one could get. MediCal pays my monthly Medicare premium, automatically qualifies me for Part D Extra Help (making my generic drugs about $1 and my brand name drugs about $3), and picks up the copay at any doctor I see or prevents them from charging me one. I’m not looking forward to this new world and what will be denied or changed. At least I can blame screaming “FUCK YOU” at them on being crazy.

TIP:
I run into doctors who take Medicare but not MediCal and if you tell them you have both they say they can’t see you as a patient because they don’t take MediCal and it’s considered fraud to charge me my Medicare 20% or anything else.
WRONG
Usually I just call back and don’t tell them I have MediCal. Then they take me but I guess it’s still fraud.
I learned this from HICAP when I called a few days ago: It’s not fraud if they give me a statement in writing that they don’t accept or bill MediCal and I agree to this in advance of treatment. Sweet! I’m on the search for a preformatted statement like this and will post it when I find it. Then I can blanket the city and my group with this new information. I even had a girl turned down by a Sharp Urgent Care the other day because they told her the same thing. I do have ins at Sharp…

Don’t fuck with a fucker. I’ll take you out. ;)

© Michelle Routhieaux 2017

Windows of Opportunity

12/5/2016     9:38pm

yoga-therapy-art

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)

I’m cold.
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?

  • coaching through PRYT training – fundraising, planning, accommodations, follow-through, step by step
  • going through my stuff
  • fitting all I own into my room
  • conquering the garage
  • dancing again consistently
  • financial planning
  • losing weight
  • standardize & wrap up group business
  • have friends again
  • sing again
  • be in a musical again
  • scheduling – me + responsibilities
  • being around my mom with compassion

(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

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

Happy Tongue

10/27/16     2:41pm

tongue-collage-2

I had surgery on my tongue today to remove a large bump/lesion. I am grateful for my doctor and awesome staff. Also, my mom rocks. She took the day off to look after me. I haven’t taken any PRNs yet but I slept most of the day and am still tired. My mouth hurts but I feel so calm and nothing bothers me. I know it’s the drugs in my system but I don’t care. My head and my mouth hurt. Don’t really care. Struggle to keep my eyes open. Nope, don’t care. This is a blessing. Thank you, God. I must sleep now. I’m falling over. I have to go to my program tomorrow, in 4 hours, and I can’t be late. I’ll tell you about that some other time.

Love, Michelle

© Michelle Routhieaux 2016

On the Election

10/19/2016     7:25pm

I’m sitting here watching the Presidential debate. I feel so disheartened. I back Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump as a President would literally kill me. But that’s not the issue for me. The issue is pride.

I remember the last two elections. I followed them closely and supported Obama. I posted on Facebook and put up yard signs. I have an Obama sound card. I felt proud to be an American. I felt involved and I felt hope. My viewpoint mattered and my response was wanted. Not so much now. I even went to local candidate events.

(listen to them talk about entitlements – VERY important to me)

At least for a moment there was involvement and acknowledgment of people like me by Bernie, a chance to rise and make a change. But it’s gone now.

I don’t post this as political commentary about a specific candidate but as a WTF about this election. I want to be able to trust the leaders of my country. I don’t want to be ashamed of my leaders or avoid the topic or change the channel each time it comes on. I want a candidate to rise up with.

It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” is on tonight. It’s the 50th anniversary. I’d rather have Lucy as my president.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2016

Wow

10-2-16     1:13pmfaithquotes_aaa

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

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

I dare ya

8/14/2016     12:15AM

What the FUCK is wrong with people?
Seriously.

I run into this issue often. People can’t answer a FUCKING question. It’s not that they even give me a reply vaguely related to what I asked. It’s COMPLETELY unrelated. What the fuck?! ANSWER THE GOD-DAMNED QUESTION!

Now, I know I’m more irritable than usual lately but this bugs me on my sanest day. These people aren’t stupid and I know they’ve mastered the skill of answering at least a little or they wouldn’t have passed kindergarten. Can you just imagine this scenario?

Teacher: What is 2+2?
Student: My favorite day is Thursday.

The student wouldn’t pass. Ever. So I know they can do it. Then WHY the Hell not? If you don’t understand the question, say that. If you don’t know the answer, say that. If you don’t want to answer for whatever reason, either say that or just say nothing. But for God’s sake, and my own, do NOT make a pattern of not answering what you’re asked. It’s just rude. I understand it when people are confused or having some episode of illness but not all the time. It’s simple.

Answer the question. I may be upset by your answer but not HALF as downright angry as I am right now. And then you won’t have to deal with my wrath. Now wouldn’t that be nice? Think about it. I dare ya.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2016

God Sent me a Hummingbird

7/23/16     10:56pmlavender painted lady

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Michelle Routhieaux 2016

Midnight Musings

7/23/16     12:44AM

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?

(sigh)
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

I don’t understand

7/10/16     11:12pm

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?
Me: No
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)

13612262_10154994406274307_2297937261045883151_n

Courtney & Michelle 1/2016

© Michelle Routhieaux 2016

God is So Good

6/23/16     7:23pm

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

A Vessel

5/22/16     11:40am

Love and Compassion and Understanding flow through me.

Breathe… (smile, listen to sermon)
The air burns my throat as I take it in. My feet press against the pew and there is pressure on the bridge of my nose. I’m thinking slowly, bandwidth consumed. My eyes and temples hurt.

Pain flows through me, shakes every cell in my body. But it’s not mine. Hands open, arms wide, I breathe it out. The negative energy crashes over and through. It exhausts but doesn’t take me down. I’M STILL STANDING. God holds me up.

Love and compassion and understanding flow through me. When filled with anger and hurt I don’t lash out. I am quiet, listening, processing, able to make a choice. I speak slowly and what comes out is truth and compassion. It’s not mine either. I watch.

I’ve prayed for years for God to speak through me and to me, to make me a vessel only for Him. I pray for Him to speak through others and I listen. I couldn’t comprehend how much that would hurt or how much it would bless me. I am not who I was. She haunts me. He holds me. And I breathe…

The Devil attacks me. He WILL not bring me down.

I need to move my body, change more energy at home, allow myself to let go. Take back the breath.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2016

Dusty Light Bulbs

5/21/16     4:13pm

2016-07-03 16.01.42

I sit in Target. My insides tremble. My face wants to scream. I just left the DBSA event. A fair amount of people showed up and were happy. No one asked me about M-. A few people asked how I am in general, never touched the subject. It shouldn’t be a secret.

Yesterday M- broke up with me. After several months of escalating issues he had reached the borderline of verbal abuse. Constant fights, arguments & insults, passive-aggressive and manipulative behavior. He continuously reminded me I have “no relationship skills” and even stated multiple times that no other boyfriend would put up with the shit I give him. I’m not a “normal” girlfriend. This isn’t a “normal” relationship. I know. He makes so many assumptions and believes them to be truth. Ego flies high between crashes. “Walking on Eggshells” for Borderline doesn’t begin to describe it.

He posted on FB that we broke up both on my wall and in DBSA. In the DBSA post he also said he didn’t want comments and requested that people let us both grieve, said we’re too good of friends and plan on remaining so. Bullshit. BULL-SHIT.

I’m not grieving. I’m not sad. I’m angry. I have taken so much shit from him recently. It’s not okay but I let some of it slide due to fear of a spike in suicidality, which I was correct about as indicated by his new FB photo. I’m angry that he’s not working on his issues. And I’m angry that he needed me to let him go, asked how much longer I was going to make him lie in bed all day alone. I can’t do it. I have managed his money, been involved in his healthcare, answered his calls and texts and put up with some very hurtful things he’s chosen to say. The recent severe symptoms are difficult to handle but I won’t be mistreated or berated or used.

Each interaction begins and/or ends in a fight. He tells me over and over how I have to sacrifice for him, that I’m not a “normal” girlfriend, that he loves me IF I change. He’s putting in the time waiting because I’m supposed to change into what he wants. I stand my ground. It wears me down.

I’m proud of myself for staying assertive and setting boundaries, for not changing who I am just for him. I’m proud of myself for not responding with anger or harsh words. I used my skills. I’m not perfect but I did a damn good job. (tingles) Now the pain is inside of me.

After his FB breakup message I replied asking what the boundaries are he wants for our intertwined lives. He called several times with more insults and asking about my previous relationship. I kept redirecting to the issue at hand. He insisted on coming over right then to give me my stuff back. I was not happy, said it wasn’t a good time. He came anyway. It was an awkward goodbye, however short-lived, since the texts and FB messages resumed arriving late telling me he knew I was up demanding that we talk. Messages too that he still loves me. Today he asked me to come over because he needs to go shopping and asked for food help from -. I replied that he has his debit card now, why does he need me?

I was clear from the beginning about my boundaries. This is the first time I’ve actually stood up for me. I’ve just been taking it, afraid he couldn’t tolerate a loss, but slowly it kills me. I don’t need to be with someone who sees me as a template for what could be. I am already me. Far from perfect, many issues, but I’m proud to be me.

I’m not caught up on the end of my relationship. What keeps running through my head are the biting hurtful things that he said. I feel sad that a man I love has such poor insight and ability to care for himself. I feel sad that I can’t change him, glad I’m not trying. I feel angry that he paints himself the victim, that no matter the issue somehow it’s always my fault. All I asked for was respect and for him to listen. He’s just not able. I feel sad to watch him spiraling when there’s nothing I can do. It’s out of my hands. I am not sad or hurting because he broke up with me.

I thought there would be pause. No such luck. He expects me to come by today. I want to scream and text back, “I’m not your girlfriend anymore. Remember? That’s not my job.” I think I would be so much more angry if I didn’t understand the root of the behavior. But knowing why makes me feel somewhat helpless. I have to remind myself that illness is not a pass for bad behavior. Boundaries are for EVERYONE.

Mom and D- are at a street fair. Neither of them responded to my note but I’m glad they’re getting to spend time together. He’s leaving tonight. That sucks. There’s a withdrawal effect that takes time to dissipate.

When I woke up this morning I slowly moved through my room, freezing at different spots. Last night I completely shut down. I changed my sheets (huge task for me) alone. Mom said she would help but was with D-. I started putting things away. I have a long way to go. I need simplicity. I need me. My gospel choir concert is tomorrow. Yellow pillow. (close my eyes)

It felt good to learn that I’m lovable. Now I have to keep loving me. Dusty light bulbs, show tunes and all. I need to gift myself some rest, set the pain free.

Oh, by the way, my ECT is on hold for now. I miss how it reset me.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2016

No Batteries

5/2/16     9:53am

I want to write but I’m SO scared.
Curled up in a ball on the floor,
Scenes flash through my head.
TERROR, Horror, Guilt, No control.
I don’t move.
I can’t do what they want me to.
They don’t know who I am.
Do you?

Tick, tock, tweet, meow, the sound of cars.
My mind has passed by.
Why did you leave me?
Radical acceptance. No batteries.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2016

Feral Girl

5/1/16     9pm

PRYT Class
Little girl – I’M STILL HERE
Feral girl

–>

I don’t matter.
-not a core belief, a truth
-embrace it, let everything go
-it’s a lesson, not intrusion, that keeps coming back
It’s what will set me free.

“It’s a loving anger.” -Bill

Urges during class – SH, run away, die

The cat behaviorist on “My Cat from Hell” said last night there’s a very small window during which a feral cat can be socialized. Am I past that time? If so, what will happen to me? I feel like I’m going to die, very close to the wisdom of the Lord, letting me feel Him close to me, letting myself be here with Him. I feel like I may pass out. But in this moment I’m okay. The pain is okay.

Is there anything other than pain?
Why don’t they tell us pain is okay?
Why didn’t they tell me pain was a gift?
Cog teaches the benefit but not the requirement of its presence for life.

“I can’t wait to do this again because I want to hear your next insight.” -B

(walk to 7-11, car)

Look up. Look at me.
Open your eyes. -Rhonda

Jane has cancer. (breathe…)
(still hear “Thy Will“)
So much pain. No tears to cry. I lock her in a closet. She is me – the truth not the lie, not the disease.
I don’t want to lose this feeling, this access to being. How can I learn to stay me?
(still very dizzy)
How much of me can I withstand right now and be able to come back to functioning?
(feel the strong pull of shutdown)
Lord, please don’t let me forget.

Acknowledge Shutdown is important
It shields & protects me.
Even possums play dead.

But I want to matter.

I know.

(hear “Please Don’t Let Me Go”)
I wish I had therapy tomorrow. I don’t know where to go.
(music is slower, falling asleep)

Urge – go to sleep, avoid work, stop helping Kelli, walk away

In my body – pain level 7, dizzy & lightheaded, hard to keep eyes open, can’t focus eyes – dart all over or roll back, jaw clenched, very still, shallow obstructed nose breathing, only feel a few parts, head tilted to the left.

I want to feel, to be the lessons. I need someone to integrate them with. And I need to do this every day. How can that happen? Am I willing or able to care for the feral me? Putting her down isn’t an option right now.
(hug yellow pillow)

© Michelle Routhieaux 2016

Dancing a Prayer

2/19/16     9:17pm

I feel so much better after ECT today. I had a good conversation with Dr. M and an 86 second seizure. He said I can stop the Wellbutrin to hopefully lower the anxiety. There were no students today and the IV guy, D, waited to knock me out until I was done talking. Dr. M held my hand and left me a note. I just have to change the day of my next ECT. I feel safe. I can breathe.

I was so anxious before. I practiced willing hands, straightening my arms and breathing deeply. I reached to the sky and twisted and stretched. I meditated on the chorus of our gospel song “I Love You, Lord.” It’s slow and soothing. And I prayed, A LOT.

I walked into the treatment room praying I’d die on the table. I woke up feeling happy and free. I have a slight headache and I’m tired but I’m like a totally different person. I’m so grateful.

I danced a prayer in the back yard and drew two pictures. I was too tired to color. I ignored my phone most of the day and tried to limit my computer time. I didn’t eat but I put on classical music and lit a candle. I took care of me. I even had a great conversation with my mom tonight. She pointed out that I’m actually talking. Yeah, I guess I am. :) Praise God.

I’ve really been struggling the past few weeks. Every day I have fought back the urge to self-harm or die. My anxiety has been so high that I’ve literally been afraid of everything. I’ve gone back to bingeing, purging and restricting. And the most meaningful activity of my life has been taken from me. I’m no longer a nanny. I miss the girls so much. They’re family.

I’ve also been really scared that the ECT stopped working and nothing else could help pull me out. But today God proved me wrong, reminded me not to doubt Him. I need rest but feel joy and am grateful to be alive.

Thank you for believing in me and reading. I’m going to my aunt’s tomorrow. I love her so much. Maybe we can do our nails together. And I can walk. Yard sales first. Captain’s orders.

Love, Michelle

© Michelle Routhieaux 2016

The Importance of a Fingernail

2/11/2016         4:27pm

It’s been a long time since I wrote. I’m sorry. I’m a bit distracted. My brain is trying to kill me. I’ve been doing maintenance ECT every week since December and it was h2016-02-09 16.33.54-1elpful until about two weeks ago. I’m not sure what happened.

I’m sitting on a bench at Fashion Valley outside L’Occitane. I just got a free facial and arm massage. I’m soaking in a moment to myself. The world weighs heavy on my soul.

I have a really hard time with grounding. I work on it with Soleil and David – and being present, feeling safe and here. I have safe objects or places or people that help me with that. Like a kid with a security blanket.

Some people would call it petty but one of my safe things is my fingernails. I take pride in their length and shape and strength. I play with them all day. Like the floor, they’re always there for me. They’re important but, unlike the floor, they’re fragile. I take caution, pay close attention to them. Then something like Tuesday happens.

I wasn’t feeling well and didn’t want to do physical labor, but S asked and I really need the money. I was sick and irritable and tired. I didn’t want to be there and was trying very hard to do what she asked and protect my nails. Somehow, while moving heavy boxes and sorting things, I incurred black and blue bruises on both feet and broke 3 nails. I was devastated. Bruises I can tolerate but the nails were for me. My heart sank and I stopped in my tracks. My breathing stopped for a moment before it returned angry and incredibly hurt. Core belief: I don’t matter. Her needs are more important than mine. Everyone’s are really. And I’m angry.

Soleil posted this quote on FB that keeps popping up in my head:

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I don’t know how to do that. Everyone’s needs come before mine. It’s an important skill to have but only on a limited basis. I hate people for a reason. I’m ANGRY.

The importance of a fingernail is more than you might think. That fingernail is me. Now I’m broken. No one stops to see.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2016

 

On ECT…

12/26/2015     1:56pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Michelle Routhieaux 2015