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Back To The Future

When you go into a psychiatric hospital, life seems to pause.  The hospital presents a whole new reality.  The day is more structured: wake up, eat breakfast, take your meds, go to group therapy, see your psychiatrist, etc.  Distractions are also removed.  There are no cell phones or computers, no iPods or Netflix.  Instead there might be books in a small library, a television in the day room, some playing cards, or a coloring book.  The social opportunities also become very small.  Outside of visitors or people that call during phone hours, the only people to talk to are nurses, therapists, doctors, and other patients.  The world inside the hospital is a complete break away from the outside world that is bustling along at a high speed with all the sensory overload and stresses of everyday life.

I spent the first 5 days of July in the hospital.  I didn’t necessarily have a psychotic episode this time, rather I was losing the ability to cope.  Problems concerning my relationship with my mom festered into intense stress that led to suicidal thoughts.  One afternoon everything reached a breaking point and I found myself struggling to think of anything but killing myself.  I got that knot in my stomach that tells me, it is time to go to the hospital.  However I was hallucinating for the first time since December 2012.  I had surgery in June and as soon as I woke up in recovery I was hallucinating.

While in the hospital, my medications were changed some.  At first they increased my Thorazine to 400mgs.  However, I experienced extrapyramidal side effects (stiffening of muscles, dystonia) that caused my doctor to put me back on 300mgs.  I was also placed on an antidepressant with the hope that this would increase my ability to handle stress.

Because the relationship problems with my mom were a central part of the stress that brought me to the hospital, this was a frequently discussed topic between my therapist and I.  She suggested a family session and I naively agreed.  Naively because no family session with my mom has ever gone well…but I suppose that time I thought would be different.

It was not.

My mom decided to tell me that she no longer wanted me to live at home.  I was not meeting her expectations and this was causing her stress.  I had to admit, she was also not meeting my expectations which also caused me stress.  We mutually agreed that it was time for me to move on in life.

Getting out of the hospital is a jolt to reality.  It feels like going “back to the future” because life was on pause in the hospital and suddenly you are thrown back into the outside world…which never stopped its fast paced chaos while you were gone.  I often try to change my environment when returning home.  I would go to Memphis and eat out with friends or watch a really long movie in the theater.  Something that was not quite the normal routine in an attempt to jump start my acclimation into the outside world.

Leaving home was and was not the jump start that I planned.

For a few months prior to the hospitalization, I had been applying to jobs in Memphis and Little Rock.  I felt the need to get some extra independence away from my parents but I was hesitant to just jump into the world.  I’d never done it before.  Now, I had no choice but to find another place to live.

I began calling a friend that I knew was looking for a roommate, but her plans had changed.  She suggested another friend…my best friend to be exact.  I hadn’t considered this friend because she is married but I was running out of options.  I called her and by the end of the day it was decided that I would come live with her.

Two weeks ago, I moved to Kentucky.  Already, life has gotten easier.  My relationship with my mom is no longer a source of stress.  I only talk to her a couple times a week.  I am happier here.  The scenery is beautiful since I am up in the Appalachian Foothills.  I have close friends to support me.  I’m enjoying the opportunity of learning more about myself, my expectations of myself, and my potential for growth.  I’ve learned how to make bread.  I’m taking pictures of barns and waterfalls.  Today I even got a new pet: a crested gecko named Noah (anyone remember the significance I personally place on the name Noah?).

I really have gone back to the future…my future.  I am presented with opportunities that make it likely that I will live in Kentucky for a long time.  The doors of the future are open to me and only I can place limits on what I accomplish.  I look forwards to providing you guys with stories of life in Kentucky.

Oh, in case you were concerned, I still have Sheriff and he is enjoying exploring the nearby towns with me.

Labor Brings Happiness

One knee is cut and bruised.  The other knee hurts and seems to be twisted.  My hips and back hurt so much that I can’t sit or lay down comfortably.

I wasn’t in an accident.  I didn’t suffer a trauma.  I welcome this pain because it was hard earned.

Today some boots that I purchased for Sheriff arrived in the mail.  I bought them so that I don’t have to worry about injuring his feet as he walks on hot pavement this summer.  They will also be helpful in other situations as well.  In order to get Sheriff desensitized to his boots, I put them on him and then we immediately went for a walk.  Because I didn’t give him a chance to worry about what was on his feet and I kept the experience really positive…he is now completely unconcerned with the boots.  He even took a nap after we returned from the walk with the boots still on!

Sheriff Wearing Boots

After the walk, I turned my attention to caring for two ducklings that I am raising.  They are a week old and are Mallard/Swedish Black Duck hybrids.  I named them Daffy and Darkwing after two cartoon ducks that were likely based upon the Swedish Black Duck.  Because a bulldozer that was digging a trench in the yard smashed all the duck pens my dad and I built years ago, they are currently being housed in a large birdcage.  However, we were able to find a pen with the least amount of damage so today we worked on repairing it.  It was overgrown with poison ivy vines, thorn bushes, and a host of other plants.  It was filled with dead leaves and sticks.  There was a termite mound sitting on part of the wood frame.  I had to use hedge trimmers to cut all the vines from the wire fence then I had to scoop all the leaves and sticks from the pen.  The bulldozer detached one side of the fence from the frame and almost removed a few of the wooden posts that are part of the frame.  I stabilized the posts then set about to cleaning the bird cage.  My dad worked on the fence because he didn’t want me to cut my hands on the wires.  While the ducklings were swimming in a makeshift pool, one of them decided to jump out and run off.  In an effort to stop it from disappearing into the woods, I took a dive on the concrete to catch it. more…

Saved A Life Today

I was going into a local bookstore today with a friend when we noticed that there were two pigeons standing in the middle of the road.  They didn’t fly away when cars drove around them…which was backing up traffic.  When we walked past, they didn’t even move away from us.  That was when I noticed that they still had some baby feathers and that their flight feathers weren’t long enough to allow them to fly.  We watched from several feet away as the mother flew down from the nest (in the bookstore’s sign) and began feeding the fledglings right in the middle of the road.  She also didn’t make an attempt to move them from the road.

My friend was impatient so we went inside to grab what he wanted.  Five minutes later we were back outside and one of the pigeons had been run over.  I was quite upset.  Why would someone drive over a helpless baby bird after watching all the other cars drive around them?  Seeing what had happened, my friend stopped being impatient.  I tried to usher the last pigeon out of the road but it simply stood between my feet as I approached.  It had no fear and didn’t see a need to move.  I looked around for a safe place to place it but there was no where close enough that the mother would be able to find it.  There was only a large parking lot and road.  The sign the nest was in was too high to reach, even with a standard ladder.  By now, a lady had stopped traffic with her car and was asking if the other pigeon had been run over.  I stated it had and she began talking about how horrible that was.  She took a towel from her car and moved the dead pigeon out of the road.  I grabbed the live pigeon and decided to take it to a local vet who is also a registered wildlife rehabilitator.  The lady thanked me for being kind enough to help an animal that most people think is a pest. more…

Category: Pets  2 Comments

A Birthday and An Update

I am terribly sorry that I haven’t written a post in a while.  February was a very rough month for me.  My fiance, Adam, broke up with me and I moved back in with my parents.  This has caused a plethora of mental and emotional difficulties.  The good news is that Adam and I remain good friends…the break-up was not a bad one.  It just hurts like the ending of any three year relationship very close to marriage would.  Aside from grieving the relationship, I’m having quite a bit of difficulty with my family.  I haven’t lived with them since I was in high school.  My parents are very authoritarian.  Also, they never took the time to learn about schizophrenia, so they don’t know much at all about how to deal with the things I struggle with.  Of course, I try to explain, but they don’t really understand.  There is a big communication gap and I don’t know how to fix it.  I also don’t know how to prompt them to educate themselves about my mental illness.  Regardless, there is much conflict resulting from the lack of understanding.  However, they are doing there best to take the steps they can to make this transition easier.  They are planning to build me a one bedroom apartment above the garage (its separate from the house) that I could live in.  It would be friendly for all my disabilities…psychiatric and physical.  This means that the flooring would be good for my back, it would be very secure to help with paranoia, and it would have some amenities that would make it easier for my service dog to help me.  I am really hoping that they will be able to build this apartment, it would be a wonderful place that would help me immensely.

Since I have moved in with my parents, I’ve had to lose a few things…pets mainly.  I no longer have my 75 gallon aquarium, in which I had invested much time and love into.  I’m hoping that once the apartment is built, I can get a new (probably smaller) aquarium.  They are very therapeutic for me and I greatly miss it.  I’ll never be able to replace my wonderful fish, but I will be able to get new ones one day.  I am somewhat looking forwards to an aquarium that doesn’t include an eel that eats all small fish.  I enjoy tanks with several schools of fish and my 75 gallon was not able to have that.  I also had to leave behind Vex, because that was Adam’s dog.  I miss her quite a bit as well.  Newton, a Greater Vasa parrot that Adam bought, was also left behind since it was his pet as well.  I was very excited about living with a parrot who could talk again, and was large…but I can still visit her so its okay.  I am happy that Adam has found a bird that he enjoys…that does bring me joy.  Rex so far has not been able to come to my parents.  They were not sure if they were going to allow that but decided that as a birthday present, they would give me permission to bring him home.  I am so glad!  I missed him terribly!  As soon as some space is cleared out in my room and I can find a way to transport his cage, he will be coming to stay with me.  I am very happy. more…

Pet Profile: Labradoodle

As my first pet profile blog, I find it only proper to begin with the breed of my service dog: the Labradoodle!

Now, Labradoodles are not actually a recognized breed, they are a hybrid or “designer dog…” an intentional cross between two purebred dogs, in this case the Labrador Retriever and the Standard Poodle.  However, by now Labradoodles have been around long enough that multi-generation dogs exist…that is Labradoodles, with Labradoodle parents, are being bred together and producing reliable litters.

Australian Wally Conran is credited with being the first person to breed a Labradoodle.  During the 80s, he was working with Royal Guide Dog Association of Australia.  A woman in Hawaii called to inquire about a guide dog that could be used for her visually-impaired husband…who was allergic to dogs.  Wally decided that the Standard Poodle would be an excellent option but could not find or train one successfully.  Therefore, he decided to try something, breeding a Standard Poodle with one of the Association’s top Labrador Retrievers.  From a litter of three, one of the puppies was hypoallergenic.  That puppy was successfully raised, socialized, and trained to be the Hawaiian man’s guide dog.  Soon after, calls began coming in from all over the world…people wanting to know more about this hypoallergenic mix.  Wally decided that it was time to put some serious effort into developing this hybrid…and thus the Labradoodle was formed.  During the 90s, more dog breeds were introduced to the mix in order to create a more solid mix…including the English and American Cocker Spaniel as well as other breeds. more…

Category: Pets  31 Comments