Quiet Isn’t Always The Best Solution

The semester is over.  Thank God.  This winter break comes at a much needed time.  A time in which I can continue to recover from the bouts of psychosis I had in October/November.

I made it through the semester with an A and three B’s.  I haven’t had grades that good for a full length semester since before I was ill.  And even then…that was an achievement.  I usually have at least one class that keeps me at a C or D.  So to get these grades during a semester in which I was hospitalized twice and couldn’t always get to class due to anxiety or delusional thinking…I am absolutely thrilled.

Now I say that winter break is a good thing.  But it can be a trap as well and I have to be aware of that.  Forget about Seasonal Affective Disorder, I can go right back into psychosis or a bout of depression if I don’t make sure I stay active during break.  I can’t just sit around and watch tv all day or play with Sheriff.  I have to make myself participate in structured activities.  Things that are tangible and productive.  That includes this website, the support forms I frequent (and one I moderate), reading books, working on art work, and continuing my soap making hobby.  Luckily, I got an order in a couple days ago of a gift basket and then some personal bars of soap.  I’m also making soap for all my family members and friends who get gifts this year. 

If it weren’t for my hobbies and online activities, I would be in trouble.  As I stated, I am recovering from my psychotic episodes.  My idea of psychosis is that it is similar to brain damage.  Neurons start to screw up.  Synapses start firing incorrectly.  Whole regions of the brain begin to function differently than normal.  You can’t just pop some anti-psychotics and be all better.  The adult human brain just doesn’t function like that.  As we get older, it takes longer and longer for our brains to repair themselves.  This is why psychiatrists try to make clear that it is a must to stay on your medication and it is a must to seek help if you start noticing a change in your thoughts or behavior.  How long does it take for a brain to repair from psychotic episodes?  I don’t know.  But I do know when my brain is doing its typical thing.  Meaning, I know how my brain usually works and what amount of symptoms I usually have.  When I reach that point, I know I’m closer to being in the clear for a while.

Currently, I’m not yet in the clear.  I’m still adjusting to this new medication combination of Loxapine, Klonapin, and Cogentin.  At the beginning of the month, my psychiatrist suggested that I stop taking the Cogentin because I was not experiencing any extrapyramidal side effects, what the Cogentin is prescribed to stop.  He suggested this because I complained of how lethargic I’ve been.  Some days I wake up and within just a couple hours, go back to bed for several more hours of sleep.  Some days, I total around 18 hours of sleep.  I went off the Cogentin and immediately found out that it had been helping me, I just didn’t realize it because the medicine was doing its job.  Within 24 hours I was experiencing akathisia: an inner restless feeling that often physically manifests as constant or repetitive movement.  I experienced it to a level I never have before.  I paced and jumped around and tapped my fingers and rubbed my hands together and rocked my body and shuffled my feet and flapped my hands and rubbed my head all while feeling frantic and disorganized in my brain.  Sleep at night became difficult if I wasn’t tired already.  I just couldn’t calm down.  My parents were constantly asking me to stop rocking back and forth when we ate dinner together.  It made them nervous.  Well how do you think I felt?!  So I put myself back on the Cogentin and within a few days, the akathisia decreased in severity but has not fully gone away.  It appears that this will just be something new I have to deal with.

I also have a new symptom that I call the Pressure.  It is a thought in my brain that does not come from me.  Well, in theory I know my brain is producing it but the thoughts are not things I would normally think of myself.  They are not things I want to do.  These most commonly involve going to a big city and living as a homeless person (don’t want to do that), going to jail…but not actually committing a crime (police officer phobic: definitely don’t want to do that), and just walking around the town aimlessly (don’t really want to do that either).  Nonetheless, my brain pressures me to do these things.  It is a rather annoying occurrence and another one that keeps me up at night.  I’ll lay in bed and fight with myself, telling myself that there is nothing for me in New York so why should I go be homeless there?  Telling myself that I am terrified of law enforcement officers so why would I want to go to the place they are in charge of?  Why would I want to subject myself to being in a jail when I know that is something that would send me straight over the edge mentally?  I’ve informed both my therapists of this new symptom and they both feel that as long as I am in control and have no plans to do any of these things…then I am all right.  Easy for you to say.

That is another thing I’m dealing with.  My new therapist.  Now that I have Medicaid, I am seeing her once a week.  She seems nice enough but she has given me no reason to trust her.  Last session, I asked her what would happen if I came in and told her that I was going to kill myself.  I asked this because I already know the answer in regards to my other therapist.  With her, if I won’t take myself to the hospital then she will have to call the police and they will take me to the jail to be evaluated.  My new therapist couldn’t answer the question correctly.  She told me what would happen if I was simply thinking about killing myself but not actually intending to do it.  I don’t care to know about that…I know that she would evaluate my plans to determine how likely I am to make an attempt.  I know that a safety plan would be created.  I know that the reasons behind the thoughts would be evaluated.  I don’t know what would happen if I told her I was dead set on doing it and it would be our last session because I would soon be dead.  Now, I would never actually say that to her.  The point of the question was for me to see how seriously this clinic would take such a statement.  What lengths they would go to in order to ensure my safety.  She wouldn’t tell me those lengths which makes me a bit suspicious.  Gimme a break, I have Paranoid Schizophrenia!  My new therapist was also glad that I made it through the entire session without shutting down.  What kind of accomplishment is that?  For the past 2.5 years I’ve been in therapy, I haven’t been with therapists who made me shut down.  I never had to set boundaries with them.  They could read me.  They knew me.  They knew how to keep me from shutting down.  The fact that this is now an accomplishment tells me that this therapist does not know me.  I tell her this.  Every time I see her.  “You don’t know me.”  And she doesn’t.  She doesn’t know about this website.  She doesn’t know how far I’ve come from my initial psychotic episode.  She doesn’t know how much I want to make a difference in the stigma of my illness and the quality of mental health care.  She does not create an environment that fosters such knowledge.

As for my other therapist…the good one, she was on vacation last week and the college is closed this week.  So I don’t get to see her again until the new semester starts.

I’ve done a lot of complaining in this post.  Allow me to practice my cognitive behavioral thinking skills.  A good thing lately is that the medicine is managing my anxiety very well.  About the only thing that creates anxiety currently is new situations or unstructured events.  But going to the store, running some errands, I can do these things without anxiety currently.  Well, my ongoing battle with odd numbers still creates anxiety but come on, they are odd numbers.  Something is odd about them.  Yes it is a delusion.  Yes I am aware of its delusional properties.  But I can’t help that it still causes anxiety.  Maybe I’ll toss that up in therapy this week.  How can she help me with my fear of odd numbers and delusion that bad things happen if they exist and you can change it (volume in car/tv, thermostat, etc).  Even next year causes anxiety because it is an odd numbered year and I will be turning 23.

Didn’t I say I was going to practice my CBT?  I made some new, pretty soaps for friends.  I finished a gift basket today.  I signed up for Amazon Student Prime and ordered two books that arrived in two days.  The fact that I can do that for a whole year amazes me!  Books so quickly!  I am honestly thrilled.  So I am currently reading Sold by Patricia McCormick and Here’s the Deal: Don’t Touch Me by Howie Mandel.  When I finish those, I plan to start working on the Hunger Games trilogy.  I should be able to finish all of that before the break is over.  I hope so because next semester I take Mythology and The American Novel…two classes with lots of reading assignments.  It will be another semester in which my own personal reading enjoyment has little room.  Though several of the books in The American Novel are good…like Invisible Man.

Now see?  I can be positive just like I can be negative.

Category: Schizophrenia
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2 Responses
  1. Mary says:

    Dearest Katherine,
    This morning I did a “dogpile.com” search for “parents of Schizophrenics”, and scrolled down….. just happened to pick your article. I have spent the last couple of hours reading many many of your posts. I’m a mom of a wonderful Eagle Scout, college graduate, kind, considerate, awesome 29 year old who became Schizophrenic a few years ago. I am sponging up lots of information that you have shared. Just doing this reading has given me my energy for today to keep moving onward and upward with my understanding of this disease…..so that I can do my own personal best as Mom! You mention an online forum? that you moderate…..can you please advise which one….I’d like to share with John in the event that he’d like to scope it out…..structured activities seem SO important, and one thing that I wrestle with in working not to be some overbearing parent. I was saddened :( to read about your recent pill overdose….and want you to know this: You made a difference for me today, and there are lots of us who need your candor and your perspective. Keep on keepin on, Katherine. An interesting place in Islamorada, Florida – Theater By the Sea……might be an awesome place for you to explore future employment experiences…..or even internship? It is small, and privately owned, and a beautiful place! More later….want to hyperlink John to your site! Sincerely, Mary – a grateful Mom of a wonderful son!

    Note from Katherine: I’m so glad that my site could help you. Feel free to ask questions if you have any. As for the forum…I’m on several forums so I’m not sure which one you saw mentioned. The one I moderate is a service dog support group forum. I am active on another forum on schizophrenia.com. That is a really good site and is linked on this website.

  2. Elizabeth says:

    In this post you mentioned living as a homeless person, going to jail…but not actually committing a crime, and just walking around the town aimlessly. I know I like to make connections where most people say its too far of a stretch but this is what that made me think. I’m sure you’ve read Ceasar Millan’s books as many of our interests overlap. One of the passages in one of his earlier books talked about how homeless people had some of the best relationships with their dogs; the dogs never need a leash, they move together as a pack and rely on each other for survival. Perhaps you are just reflecting on your relationship with Sheriff. Or simplifying it to a way to be given needed resources in a fashion that didn’t require reciprocation by a large group of people that would move on and not press you with questions afterward. And I had heard before that homeless people would often do things to get them put in jail, like throwing rocks through shop windows when people were there so nothing would get stolen but they would get to go to jail for three hots and a cot and to be out of the elements until spring. Since they lock bad guys behind bars and the bad guys that you are dealing with are apparently not behind bars, you could merely be imagining that as a refuge from them, a security between that stress and you. For walking around the town aimlessly, this time of year, frankly that is normal. Seriously have you never before gone out even as a kid just to look at all the Christmas lights and decor and just enjoy the season? I had been thinking about doing that a lot myself lately.

    Message from Katherine: Thanks for trying to analyze it but you are right, it does seem like too far of a stretch. I do go out and drive around the neighborhoods looking at Christmas lights though.

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