The horrible person is my roommate… not me!

Last week my therapist called me a “horrible person”.

multiple times

I couldn’t deny it. I will analyze the shit out of a person. I’m a bloodhound and nothing will stop me from figuring out your intentions.

She said I was a horrible person because I always look for the worst possible outcome in every scenario. Our conversation was all in a friendly banter and she was showing me that I have a choice of being a “horrible person” or giving up that need to always feel like I need to have a contingency plan or have total control. The idea is to give up the tendency to look for the worst in people and situations. Her white board flow chart of my thinking always left me in the worst case scenario.

Over the next week, I began to break down this thinking and I feel that it is a protective mechanism to always be prepared. That’s part of PTSD. Or maybe it’s just a Boy Scout code of be prepared for shit. (Or something)

The “horrible person” ideal also brought up an inner dialogue. The need to tell my therapist of who I am. “She should have an idea of who I am by now. Haven’t we be talking about who I am for the past four sessions?” No. We’ve been talking about my domestic issues. My goal was to work on me, but really, I’ve been ruminating over the same shit about someone else this whole time. The conversation always turns to my deep hurt and trust being demolished and the depression, anxiety and pain that follows. Over. And over.

Get over it, and work on me! Right?

I came across this audiobook called “The Sacred Self” by Michael Singer during my week of rumination. Very honestly, this book is a Universe Nod (people, places or things that come into my life in a very timely fashion.) It’s an audiobook about exploring who we are and the ability to observe ourselves and the world around us by tapping into meditation and mindfulness and letting go of pain, thereby achieving happiness. It focuses on getting rid of the inner dialogue, opening the heart and achieving enlightenment. I’d love to quote most of the book, but to keep your interest and to avoid risking copyright violation, I’ll send you to the Google Book so you can read these few pages regarding opening the heart… start on page 44 where it talks about ” There are centers within that channel your energy flow. When you close them, there is no energy. When you open them, there is. Although various energy centers exist within you, the one you intuitively know the most about opening and closing is your heart. Let’s say that you love somebody, and you feel very open in their presence. Because you trust them, your walls come down allowing you to feel lots of high-energy. But if they do something you don’t like, the next time you see them you don’t feel so high. You don’t feel as much love. Instead, you feel a tightness in your chest. This happens because you closed your heart. The heart is an energy center, and it can open or close…. When you close your heart center, energy can’t flow in. When energy can’t flow in, there is darkness. Depending on how closed you are you either feel tremendous disturbance or overwhelming lethargy. Often people fluctuate between these two states. If you find out that your loved one didn’t do anything wrong, or if they apologize to your satisfaction, your heart opens again. With this opening you get filled with energy, and the love starts flowing again….” and read through 46.

But here’s the words that struck me the most regarding heart his description of heart energy…

“Humans have an innate tendency to close as a means of protection. But closing your heart is not really protecting you from anything; it just cuts you off from your source of energy. In the end, it only serves to lock you inside… do not let anything that happens in life be important enough that you’re willing to close your heart over it….”

Is there a connection to my chronic pain, depression and anxiety and my heart closing?

If you’re feeling The Universe Nod yourself, check out Mr. Singer’s description of inner dialogue… it truly hit me where I needed to be hit. There’s an analogy of your inner dialogue being your insane roommate that had me rolling.

I’ve been listening to an insane roommate (page 15-22) for the majority of my life! Maybe I’m not a horrible person, maybe my roommate is!
When I saw my therapist on Monday, I told her about the book and the roommate theory. I told her I’d been listening to this inner dialogue (the insane roommate) and believing everything I heard. Trust me, I worded this in such a way that she didn’t come to the conclusion that I was hearing voices… at least I hope that’s how it came across.  We did not do the slow march to the psych ward, so I think I’m in the clear. I explained to her that since I understood that all these catastrophic thoughts in my head were not all true, I could begin to apply the cognitive behavioral therapy worksheets that she kept giving me… and I kept ignoring.

In the meantime, I’ll tell the roommate to shut up when it begins to yell at me about lies, deceit and what happened in the past. It’s all about right now and opening my heart to discover that no matter what, it won’t be hurt. Soon, I’ll have to tell you about the incredible voice (that was not my roommate) which spoke to me while meditating at a yoga retreat in the Bahamas. It had to do with my golden heart…

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Providence or chance?

I tried to cancel my standing psychologist appointment set for today.

Yesterday, I left a message along with an email to my psychologist letting her know that; “I’m taking a break this week. “I’m staying home as much as I possibly can. I’m avoiding any stress including the emotional stress that comes with sitting and discussing my deepest darkest troubles of yesterday and today.”

She immediately sent a bill for $50 via paypal for a cancelled appointment.

I emailed her right back and told her “nevermind, I’m coming in.”

I went through all the emotions. Pissy because she sent me a bill. “I’m sick for goodness sake!” Understanding: “Well, this leaves a pretty expensive space in her calendar just dashed.” Anxiety: “She’s going to be pissy because I cancelled then reneged” Worry: “She didn’t reply, maybe she won’t be there or maybe she filled my spot.” Essentially, just cancelling the appointment induced a source of worry that didn’t need to happen.

This morning on my way to the not-cancelled session, I was craving hot tea. Hot tea is not something that I crave, but there’s a Starbucks along the way to her office and I had time to stop in.  I was feeling out of sorts all morning. Still processing my worried feelings, going on little sleep and a total body pain that I can only explain as a horrible hangover after dancing all night long.  Absolute exhaustion.

I threw the old red Toyota truck in a parking space as close to the front door as I could. I climbed out of the truck and immediately became hyper-vigilant. Observing people sitting in their cars, walking to and from businesses in the small shopping center around me. I’m hyper aware as I walk through the coffee shop; watching each person lounging from the corner of my eye. I caught fragments of conversations as I avoided eye contact and skittered straight to the cashier.”Hurry, hurry” my brain says. “Watch, watch” my mind screams.

The cashier’s name was Ahmed. As soon as I approached him, a female barista sweeps in and whispers in his ear. They both giggle and he tells her to get back to her station. He quickly turns back to me ready to greet me for the first time. I turn to the barista and easily say, “You’re bad, I can tell.”  She easily quips back “It’s the red lipstick.” Sweetly, I say “and, you wear it well.”.

I feel self conscious as I am about to ask Ahmed a stupid question. Since I’ve worked in retail, I know how questions can become repetitive and irritating.  I’ve known many employees to become irritated at when-my-wife-sends-me-on-a-starbucks-runthe general populace because they don’t know what size “grande” is. So, I prepare myself for some ‘tude as I pose my question.  Because it’s important dammit. I don’t even order tea!

“Is a chia tea latte just chai tea and milk?”

Cringing, I await for the sigh, the eye roll or something.

There is none, easily Ahmed says to me “yeah, you can get it with syrup or you could actually get one with the tea bag.” I’m relieved that I was right about the chai tea. I’m kind of feeling confused and anxious and I fumble for a second because my choice of teas isn’t registering. Essentially, when my brain disconnects because of anxiety, I toss a familiar question out. “which would you prefer?”

I watch him as he eases his voice and tells me his choice. I say “that sounds great!” I begin to fumble with my iphone so I can open the Starbucks app so I can pay with it. My fingers aren’t working well. I look around as the line grows longer and I believe that Ahmed is stalling for me. He’s telling me all of the choices of milks that I could make it with. My app finally opens and I drop my phone on the counter. My fingers gave out and my mind darts to coconut milk. “Stay focused” I say to myself. Ahmed quickly, without a moments hesitation grabs my phone and places it next to the scanner for me. I immediately notice that there’s not enough money loaded on the app. So I grasp for my credit card. I feel the people behind me groan. Ahmed smoothly takes the card and sticks it into the chip reader. I apologize and make excuses that I’m not awake yet.

And I say, “You’re so easy going and kind, you could work in a psych ward.” and I immediately realize what I said. Ahmed pauses and looks at me. “What did you say?”.  “I mean, not that I would know anything about a psych ward…” I say quickly, eyes wide looking around the room. I cover my mouth, with my hand. Embarrassed and suddenly feeling very small. “Why did I say that?” I say to myself.

Ahmed looks at me and said “I’m going to work in a psych ward next week. You just spoke to my heart.” as he places his hand over his heart. I relax and reply “The people in the psych ward were the kindest people I’ve ever met. Where will you work?” He told me, but I quickly forgot. It didn’t sound familiar. I told him where I was and he beamed. I thanked him and walked to the pick up counter.

This is not the first time I’ve had a conversation like this. The subject is always different, but the reaction is the same. I’ll say something so random and I touch the heart of the receiver. This happened in the pharmacy in which I worked at many times. It happened so much that I cannot go near the pharmacy without someone stopping me and loving on me. Each time, I introduce the person to my husband. My husband is surprised that I have met so many people. He talks about how I’ve touched so many lives. I say, I just talk to people when the words come. 

Is this providence or chance? My feelings about God these days are difficult. He is who He is. He has made the choice to let me live with the pain and suffering. He will use me as He wants and no amount of praying will fix that. Has God used me once again, given me the experience of the psych ward to touch this young man? Encourage this young man that he’s doing the right thing? 

I felt his response. I felt his heart swell, and mine did as well. I almost cried when his emotions welled.

Providence or Chance, my friends?

Had I not reneged on my appointment and had I not craved tea (If you knew my absolute love for coffee you would know the chances are crazy), I would have not stopped in to Starbucks today.

 Providence? Chance?

When is the next Psych Ward Installment?

I know you are asking when I will post my next Psych Ward installment. The simple answer is: when I can go back there without throwing myself into a PTSD episode. As much as I want to write about it there’s just as much of me that wants to leave it in the past. It’s not a horrible tale to read. YOU won’t have nightmares, but my whole body relives the time I was there and it was extremely painful and stressful. Stay tuned, I hope to write the next installment before the end of the month.

Anyway, I’m having a ton of fun creating stuff, so, yay me!

Hugs and Kisses

 

Psych Ward: Suicide Watch

I run to him and wrap my arms around his tall, confident, frame and sob… loudly. I had woken up to him leaving the bed this morning, yet the time apart felt surreal, lethargic even sickening. We are standing in the visitors room. I sob into his chest uttering apologies for being here. “I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry…” ” please don’t be mad at me….” “I miss you”….

…..

Monday, August 29, 2016 after noon.

It takes hours to check me in. The doctors, nurses and staff all ask the same questions. They all type into the same computer. (The staff member assigned to me was very nice, I’ll call him Schaffer since I cannot remember his real name.) “Have you tried to kill yourself?” “Do you have a plan?” “What is your home life like?” “What is your family life like?” “Why do you feel this way?” Over and over I tell them “I have chronic pain, I am in the middle of a medication switch and it’s making me feel dark and have racing suicidal thoughts.” I’m telling them honestly what is going on. I shouldn’t be scared, I tell them everything. I tell them I’ve made plans of how I would do it. This is supposed to be good for me. Doc said I was brave, right? I continue…”I know that these thoughts are not supposed to be there. I know not to believe them.” Over and over I repeat…” I’m here so you can help me through this medicine change. I’m switching from Effexor to Cymbalta.” I see doubt flicker in their eyes. Each person I speak with. It started with the staff who said it should only be a few days. The nurse said a week or two. By the time I was interviewed by the doctor, the “few days” went to “weeks”. My stomach begins to feel sickly.

I’m handed hospital patient scrubs and asked to change in a bathroom. They fit awkwardly, feel foreign and they scrape my skin. The snaps don’t work, so, I’m asked to change again. The socks are like sandpaper. I can’t wear my shoes.  We are instructed to wear a paper thin hospital robe over our patient scrubs when outside of our room. I’m whisked through the paperwork process. Sign here and here and here. I don’t know what I’m signing.

I’m not in complete control. The combination of the drugs that I’m on don’t allow for presence of mind.

Sometime during this check in process, my husband arrives with a bag of clothes and toiletries. I’m not allowed to see him. “He has to come during visiting hours.” Schaffer says  as he empties the contents of the camouflaged bag, full of my personal effects. “Hours are between 4 and 7:30 pm” I suddenly feel cold, my body just wants to collapse with panic. It feels that all my blood leaves my body.

Soon I realize what he is doing with my belongings. “Oh my God, he’s checking for contraband” I think to myself. I hadn’t even read the list of items allowed or thought of why. My husband packs wisely, of course, I sent him the list of effects that are allowed before my phone was confiscated. Everything I would need is accounted for and listed on a form. Everything down to my tiny, white laced underwear. I giggle at this and say “well, that’s what I get for having my husband pack my bag.” Everything that I’m not allowed to have; q-tips, electric toothbrush and the shower loofah made of mesh are packed in a separate bag for safe storage until I check out. I laugh at the thought of impaling myself with a q-tip and quickly check myself out of respect for the “truly suicidal” and for Schaffer.  Who, I assume, has seen too much suicide to mention.

I don’t know when I realized that I’ve just been put on suicide watch. It was probably sometime in the night, or the next day as I got to know the wards. That’s why we all were there, we aren’t allowed to kill ourselves.

After what seemed like hours, I’m shown a room where all of my clothing, toiletries and phone would be locked away. There are a few staff members in this small room. Oddly, the institutionalization, the suicide watch and the sequestration of all of my belongings brought a tune to mind. A tune from the Broadway musical, Annie. And I began to sing… “It’s a hard knock life…” Quickly, the staff begin to sing with me. Each one, chanting along to the simple tune. My mind grasps at a few thoughts while this is happening. Firstly, if I can find humor in this then maybe I shouldn’t be here. Secondly, these guys will be good to me, the compassion it takes to sing this little tune with a tear stained ward is astronomical. And thirdly, they knew the words to this Broadway show far better than I did!  The question of the necessity of my placement into the psychiatric ward of this hospital was growing at an astounding rate in my heart and mind. I mean, I had just broken out in song for goodness sake!  [As I write this, I can see that the medications were fighting a massive battle in my head. Admittedly, I am someone who can find humor at any time and anywhere. Especially spout out random shenanigans at very, random times. The truth is that I was in sever panic as I sang that song. Humor is soothing to me.]

Around 2 pm, Monday

I am shown my room and am relieved to know that I don’t have a room mate. I snore, and I have no idea what kind of people are here. The nurse walks me to the door, I walk in and I begin to cry. Not because of the barren room or the plastic mattress or the bathroom with no door. Not because I wasn’t wearing fleece or being prepped for an IV of happy drugs in a hospital bed, I’d long forgotten about the comfy jammies and the relaxation that my doctor had promised. But because I really want to go home and hug my dogs and love on my husband and stand in the sun. Numb, exhausted and grief stricken. It hits me.  “I can’t do this.” Dread… fear strikes my heart and I begin to panic… My loneliness is tangible.  Any dark, suicidal thoughts were admonished as soon as I walked across the threshold of that barren room. Any bailiwick of suicide has been replaced by love and comfort and the vast amounts of pleasures that I took for granted in the outside world. Yes! I have been miserable! Yes! The medications were causing my brain to hemorrhage large amounts of fuck it’s. But dammit. I wanted to leave! If I thought I could run out those doors in my hospital socks and ill fitting clothing with ridiculous elastics, snaps and swirls, I would have done it. The Raging lunatic… on the loose!

“I can’t do this!” “I don’t want to be here! I want to go home. I want my husband!”  A pit in my stomach grows ten feet wide… “I want to live… I swear… Just let me go!” The screams reverberate in my head. Yet, I hadn’t uttered a word. I turn around and the nurse is still there. “Are you ok?” He asks. How long did I stand there? “I don’t think I can do this.” I whisper. “It gets easier.” His tone is soft and understanding as he turns to escort me away from the room.

I am shown to the common room where all of the other wards are congregated. They had just finished some kind of meeting. I am reminded of a movie called “28 days” with Sandra Bullock. They sit in a loose circle, each taking a turn and speak in rapid utterances, reminding me of a 5 year old learning to read. I ignore them. I’m not supposed to be here, I’m not like them. I sit, staring off into space and my face is wet with tears. I feel them, but I’m over crying as well. I am waiting for 4 o’clock to see my husband. The time ticks by like I’m in some kind of vacuum. Quiet sobs draw me out of a catatonic state.  Is that me? I shift my gaze to a girl with her head in her hands, short hair a mess, her ears have massive plastic circles in the lobes. A tattoo graces her hand and contrasts with her shining white hospital bracelet. The bracelet is just like mine.  Her hospital robe envelops her slight frame. She’s sobbing and saying over and over, rocking back and forth….. “I want to go home.”


This is the third installment of my tale from the psych ward. It takes a lot out of me to write this story, so please bear with me as I process and write.


An Instagram Post from July 27, 2016