Monday, November 20, 2006

That's it

If I have to spend one more minute in this house with these fucking children, someone's going to get it.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


Today has been a very conflicting day. I didn't go to my group therapy like I was supposed to. When I showed up today, I was told that I had been discharged without my knowledge because I had missed two days of therapy. I was irate, not so much because of their policy, which is fairly reasonable, but because out of the three phone calls I received from the hospital yesterday, not one person mentioned the policy to me. So I told them I would be back today, and they said, "See you then" - nothing about automatic discharge. I got up this morning and hauled my ass to the hospital - an hour away - intent on getting to group on tme and working on my issues. So when I was unceremoniously kicked out of the hospital's program, I was really upset. It just seems to me that when someone is making a goof faith effort to improve her situation, it's hurtful to deny her that treatment. It seems like a direct violation of the "first do no harm" principle. But I managed to handle it really well - I didn't cry, I didn't yell, I didn't have an anxiety attack or anything. I was really pleased with my coping. I was a little... disoriented for a while. I wandered around Target for two hours, up and down every aisle. I kept putting things in my cart and then taking them back out. I finally ended up with a new winter coat. And scarf. And hat. And gloves. All of which I totally needed anyway, so no loss. I managed to talk through things with my husband, and I felt pretty good about it. We're trying to make some major life decisions right now - whether I want to make a career change (probably), when I would want to do that (now? end of the year?), whether we want to move (definitely), whether we can afford to move (of course not), where we would even move to (who knows where?), and what we can do to simplify our life for the sake of my mental health and wellbeing.

My kids are at my parents' house right now, and it's just killing me. I miss talking to the Bear. She's at a stage right now where she really gets into conversation. She asks a million questions, which is totally annoying, but really cute. She's amazingly bright, and it's so neat to watch her figure things out on her own. She's such a person now. Not a baby or a toddler. She's a little girl. And all I want to do is hold her and tell her I love her. She knows that Mommy is sick, that Mommy goes to the doctor, and that Mommy takes medicines to hep her feel better. It kills me that, at two, she knows all this already. I only hope that when (if) her turn comes, we'll be able to talk about it and get help if she needs it. There's such a strong marker for this in my family, I want her to be aware of it as she gets older. And I never want to hide my illness from her. And Mouse, I just want to squish her baby fatness, and watch her chase the cat, and hear her laugh, and see her clap her hands, and kiss her all over her face. She's such a big baby now, and after her bath, when she's just in her diaper, she's so wide and soft and smooth. It's killing me inside not to be with her. And yet, my house is remarkably peaceful right now. And maybe that's what I need to help work things out right now.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Rather than more blathering about my mental state, today I leave you with a poem (well, a fragment thereof, really) that has spoken to me in the past few days.

Oh build a special city
for everyone who wishes

to die, where
they might help one another out

and never feel ashamed
maybe make a friend,


who created the stars and the sea
come down, come down

in spirit, fashion
a new heart

in me, create
me again -

from "Fathers" by Franz Wright

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Today was a bad day.

I'm staring at the pills I managed to find - my husband tried to hide them, bless him, but he's not real thorough.

My coworkers have forgotten me, I have no close friends, and my family is stressful beyond compare. The new meds make me stoned all the time.

I spent the majority of my day in bed. I cried. I slept. I stared at the ceiling fan.

I can't imagine living like this for much longer. Is this all there is to look forward to?

On the other hand, I did shower and go out to vote - I'm not so far gone that I can't do my part to help the Democrats take the Senate. Maybe there is hope left for me.

Still. A bad day.

Monday, November 06, 2006


Today's goal: Deal with my anxiety without meds.*

Today is my first day of outpatient therapy. We come every day to continue the work we becan during our hospital stay. I was a little reluctant to come - I wasn't sure how much it would really help me. Everyone seems really nice and welcoming - a lot less crazy than the inpatient program. We'll see how it works out.

I called my boss and took a leave of absence from work. I told her I was going to take my 12 weeks of FMLA, but in reality I'm going to reevaluate at Christmas break. Maybe I'll go back - maybe I'll make a career change.

Today's self-reflection exercise goes like this:

1. One thing I would like others to know about me is that sometimes I put up a tough facade to cover the fact that my feelings are very easily hurt.

2. Ways my future will be different than my past - I will not direct my anger at my children, or at other innocent people. I will try to express anger at *situations* instead, and try to deal with it in a healthy, productive way.

3. My definition of morality is to act in the way that is most beneficial and least desructive to myself and others.

4. The best decision I ever made was to marry my husband.

5. My greatest fear is that nobody likes me.

6. A time in my life when I felt safe was when I lived alone in Chicago.

7. My definition of resilience is coming out of a situation stronger than when you went in.

8. A part of my past I want to put to rest is my compulsive lying from childhood, and my feelings of being an outsider after my move.

9. I am worthy of love because I try to be caring toward others.

10. Ways others are wrong about me: they think I don't care about others or about what they think of me.

11. I am not "damaged goods" because I am not a disease - I am a *person* who has a disease.

12. An alternative to self-blame and shame is learning to release negative thoughts and feelings.

13. My life isn't over yet because I need to raise my daughters to be strong, intelligent, independent women.

14. The forms of my creativity are very limited - I express them mostly through writing or baking.

15. My goals for the next 6 months to 1 year are to find satisfaction at work and to focus more on myself and making myself whole again.

16. I am not my mother; I am someone who admits my troubles, who seeks help for them, and who doesn't repress my emotions.

17. What defines who I am: I am a wife, mother, friend, avid reader, and queen of all trivial knowledge.

18. Compared to one year ago, my life is more unstable, but is on a positive trend instead of a negative trend.

19. It is my choice whether or not to forgive myself for hurting myself and my family.

20. The past does not control me because I can choose how I act and react in situations.

21. The next step after surviving is thriving.

22. I am addicted to routine.

23. One person who seems to understand me is my husband.

24. At this moment in my life, I want to learn to like myself.

25. I am allowed to make mistakes because I'm only human.

We talked a lot about false self vs. true self today, false self being the face we show to the world, and the true self being who we truly are. I made a poster contrasting the two, but I truly can't tell anymore which traits are really me and which are the ones I show to the world. I don't know who I am anymore, and that's sad to me. I wish I knew, or knew how to find out.

*Yeah. Not today. Vaunting ambition and all that, but, yeah. No.

Sunday, November 05, 2006


So, I thought I was ready to come home. Now that I'm here, I'm wishing I could go back to the hospital. It's much more stressful than I anticipated it would be. It's very overwhelming, and there's so much to deal with at once that I'm really getting anxious. I stood on the front porch for ten minutes before I could come inside. Every few hours, I have to run upstairs and cry. I'm having more and more anxiety today.

I cut off my hair. I was out, and I just walked in and said, "cut it off." It looks kind of good.

I left my job. I'm taking FMLA leave for 12 weeks - I'll think about going back then. I just can't do it right now. The thought of going back to work gave me an anxiety attack today. A bad one.

Things are bleak here, but with glimmers of hope. I posted the entries I wrote while I was in the hospital and post-dated them to the dates they were written. Sorry if they're a little incoherent.

I know this barely counts as an entry for today - oh well. I haven't cried in two hours. That's a big step for today - we'll see what happens tomorrow.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Day Three

Today I go home. I spent just over 48 hours locked away in here, but I feel very different than when I came in. I have identified some of my problems, my shortcomings, things that trigger my emotional troubles, and the causes of some of my actions. I'm working on setting some goals for myself. Every day in group we set goals for the day, and at the end of the day we talk about how or whether we met our goals. My goal for today was to set some long-term goals for myself to work on "on the outside." I succeeded fairly well. My goals are to create a support network for myself - friends and family whom I can talk to about what's going on, and whom I can ask for help if I need it. Another goal is to accept help when it is offered. Also, I will spend more time helping myself, so that I can be a better mom, wife, and teacher. I never spend any time focusing on me. I'm going to start doing that more often. Finally, I'm going to work on finding ways to cope when things *don't* go as planned. What those are, I have no idea, though.

Right now, when things aren't going as planned, and I start feeling angry or anxious or overwhelmed, I'm trying to remain calm by maintaining even breathing patterns, and by distracting myself until I'm calm enough to take stock of the situation. I've been feeling a little more anxious than usual, and when I get anxious lately I cry, so I've been doing more of that than usual, too. Which is okay. It's actually kind of nice for a change. The meds I have been on made it impossible for me to cry, and crying can be a really good way to release tension. Now that I'm able to do it again, it feels kind of good. Still, it's not always a really effective way to deal with stress and mood triggers. What will I do when I go back to work? I need to find a way to cope with my emotions when I'm not at home. Must work on this.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Day Two

Had a small anxiety attack this morning, triggered by being here. I was afraid they had lost my birth control pills, and I like to take them at the same time every morning. They lost my bag; it's not that far a stretch to imagine they'd lose my pills, too. I managed to control it through breathing and trying to block out the whining coming from the alcoholic behind me. I did break down and cry when I went to sit in my psychiatrist's office, mostly because I miss my husband.

He has really been supportive and caring (for the most part), since I got sick. He is changing his work schedule to be at home at night with the kids and me, which I've been angling for for years now. He is affectionate, too. We spent my last morning at home cuddling and snuggling in bed. He held me so close, and was so loving, I just wanted to stay in bed forever, never leaving, never even moving. I cry when I think about missing him - I really feel like we might be turning over a new leaf in our relationship. Getting married and having two kids in two years has really put a strain on our relationship. It would do the same to anyone, I assume. Some couples just manage to cope better than others, it seems. I had a breakdown instead.

They tell me I have obsessive compulsive tendencies. Not full-on OCD, just those personality traits that make you act that way. I feel those tendencies coming out more here. It seems like it's the environment here, or maybe the stress of being here, or the need to fit in with all the crazies. Whatever the reason, it's starting to make me twitch. When things happen that are out of my control, I get angry. In that respect, I think that my obsessive-compulsive tendencies are tied into my bipolar disorder. Those mood swings are linked to control - when I have total control, mood goes up. When I'm not in control, mood takes a nosedive. Or, conversely, maybe when my mood is up I'm better able to maintain control, and when it goes south I'm not as able to hold on to that control. I think the first scenario is the most likely, though. It just seems to click to me.

Mr. T thinks I'm pretty. Today in our goal-setting group we somehow got around to talking about my pervasive need to get approval from others. I always have to be perfectly made up, hair done, looking my best, even when I'm just going to the Wal-Mart or the post office. I spend hours getting ready to go to the vet or the grocery store - my need for approval is so strong that it hinders me from doing the things I really want to do sometimes.

Tonight I played volleyball for the first time since 8th grade. The last time I played volleyball, I sucked at it. I suck at all sports. I always have. I am uncoordinated, inhibited, and I have no depth perception. I'm scared to look dumb, and I'm scared to try for fear of failure. But here, who cares if I look stupid? Teams were made of fifty-year-old alcoholics, shaking so badly they couldn't even hit the ball, thirty-something men with anger management issues, and teenage girls with no self-esteem. I fit right in. I wasn't the worst person out there. I actually scored like seven points for my team. I tried. I joked. I had fun. I got hit in the face - twice. And I was able to laugh it off. I had a great time, playing in a volleyball game that looked more like a Saturday Night Live skit than a sporting event. I haven't had this much fun in years. That worries me. Is this how I really am? Is this me without depression? Is this how normal people feel? Or are the new meds making me manic?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Day One

This place smells funny. Like industrial-strength cleaner, which is funny because it doesn't look like it's been cleaned any time recently. It's vaguely dingy, and the fluorescent lighting isn't doing anyone any favors.

Checking yourself into a mental hospital is an odd experience. You keep eyeing everyone around you, wondering who is crazy and who is sane. I look like one of the sane ones. The real crazies are easily distinguishable, but it's the sleepers that you never know about. They could swing at any second. Some of them look totally normal, until they open their mouths. The shit these people say...

There's a little woman who looks like my husband's abuelita. I listened to her talk for twenty minutes about how she can't come when she masturbates, and how sexual incompatibility was the only problem she had with her husband. And that even though she was bathing regularly, he still didn't want to do her. Her mumbling was so bad, I almost couldn't understand her.

The smell of stale coffee permeates the air here. It's like the bottom dregs of a diner coffeepot, the kind that no one ever drinks, and no one ever cleans. For some reason, though, the nurses' station smells like urine. Not terribly strong, just strong enough to be recognizable.

Putting twenty women in a locked ward is never a good idea. The bitchfights, the tension, the general cattiness of it all is unreal. There have been two fights since I got here. One about a radio, one about a noise someone made with her nose. Both had to be broken up by staff in scrubs. I don't fit in with these women. Sure, I have anger issues, but I would never assault another woman over something so trivial. There's a whole other world down here. It's scary.

A bipolar woman shuffles down the hallway, scuffing her feet into the commercial carpeting. Three minutes later, she scuffs back the way she came. The other ladies call this the "Seroquel shuffle." This chick is so stoned she said hello to me four times before she remembered she'd already met me. She writes random Bible quotes on our dry erase board, and I caught her singing hymns into the phone earlier. She's here because she pulled a knife on her (also bipolar) husband.

I don't really know how I got here. Last Monday at work I hit the wall. I went to the office after school and took a personal day for Tuesday. Tuesday night I had a breakdown - something trivial with the kids set me off, kicking things across the room, throwing anything I could get my hands on, screaming at the girls. I called my husband at work - no answer. I called him 17 times - no answer. Frantic, I called my mother in tears. I was barely coherent as I told her what was going on. She promised to come the next morning - the next day I called the hospital. I kept thinking how much simpler it would be if I wasn't here anymore, if I didn't have to do this anymore. I finally realized that I don't want to live like this anymore. It's not that I don't want to live, it's that I don't want to live *like this*. But somehow, in conversations with my husband and the doctors, the fact came out that I had *contemplated* suicide. Not planned. Not attempted. Just thought about it. And apparently, that's a federal offense, because here I am under lock and key, on "15 mintue watch," whatever that means, and unable to get out. If I try to check myself out before I see the doctor, they put me on a 96-hour hold - standard liability practice for people with "suicidal ideation." I want to go home. These bitches are *crazy*. I'm not like that. Am I?


Hey kids - I'm going to be gone for a few days. I will write an entry every day while I'm gone and post-date them when I get back. I know it's technically against the rules, but they're pretty strict in the mental hospital. What's a girl to do?

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

100 things about Jane

It's November now, and I'm going to try to post every day. Just to see if I can. Call it what you will...

This is my 100th post here, and so, in honor of Julie, I'm going to attempt 100 things about Jane. Here goes nothing.

1. My name is not Jane.
2. It is, however, part of the name of one of my family members.
3. I am twenty-six.
4. I look about eighteen.
5. I frequently lie about my age to make myself sound older.
6. I'm sure, when I'm 30, that will change.
7. I always wanted to be older than I was.
8. I still do.
9. I have two daughters.
10. They are 18 months apart.
11. We didn't plan it that way.
12. In fact, we never wanted children at all.
13. The Bear was a total accident.
14. I was on the pill when she was conceived.
15. It was two weeks before our wedding.
16. We found out I was pregnant two weeks after the wedding.
17. I was devastated.
18. I wanted to have an abortion.
19. Husband wouldn't let me.
20. I'm glad I didn't.
21. My pregnancy with the Bear was one of the worst times of my life.
22. I hated being pregnant.
23. I was suffered from major depression the entire time.
24. I had a natural birth with both of my daughters.
25. After the Bear was born, things seemed to get a little better.
26. In fact, they were better enough that when Husband suggested we try for another one, I agreed with him.
27. We tried for three cycles and got pregnant on the third.
28. That pregnancy lasted 7 weeks, 2 days.
29. The Bear was 6 1/2 months old when I lost the baby.
30. Looking back, I'm kind of relieved.
31. I still get the strongest feeling that the baby was a boy.
32. I named him Scott.
33. I've never told anyone that.
34. Mouse was born one year and 11 days after that miscarriage.
35. We didn't plan her conception, either.
36. We were actually *not* trying to get pregnant at the time.
37. I was more excited about this one, though.
38. I was convinced I was going to lose her, too.
39. She was actually a twin.
40. We lost her twin around 8 weeks.
41. I was, again, kind of relieved.
42. Husband and I are freakishly fertile.
43. He had a vasectomy at 27.
44. We are *never* doing this again.
45. Instead, we got a cat.
46. We can't get the damn thing to pee in the litter box.
47. It's driving me up the damn wall.
48. That's ok, though - everything drives me up the wall.
49. That's because I'm crazy.
50. My therapist thinks I'm bipolar (II, not I), with a side helping of OCD.
51. My psychiatrist thinks I have major depressive disorder.
52. And also generalized anxiety disorder.
53. And some anger management issues.
54. I think my life just sucks.
55. And that makes me angry. And sad.
56. I alternate between sad and angry on a fairly regular basis.
57. When I'm sad, I can't do anything.
58. I don't shower.
59. I don't cook.
60. I don't do anything except sit on the couch.
61. When I'm angry, though, I yell.
62. I yell at my kids.
63. It used to make them cry.
64. Now, they just pat me on the back and say, "I love you, Mommy."
65. I yell at my husband.
66. He doesn't always take it well.
67. I don't mean to do it.
68. It's like I have no control over what I do.
69. That's kind of scary to me.
70. When I get in a "mood," I do things I wouldn't ordinarily do.
71. I'm not a very nice person to be around.
72. I've had problems with depression and mood since I hit puberty.
73. They come, and they go, and they always come back again.
74. I never told Husband about these problems before we got married.
75. I still regret that.
76. I was afraid he wouldn't want me.
77. I still worry that he'll leave me.
78. He was the most popular boy I knew in college.
79. I still can't believe he picked me over all of the other girls he knew.
80. I am an emotional eater.
81. I overeat when I'm sad.
82. I used to have an eating disorder.
83. At fifteen, I weighed 103 pounds.
84. I was 5'5".
85. Now, I weigh 140.
86. I feel fat every day.
87. I used to be a liar.
88. I thought it would make people like me.
89. It didn't.
90. Now, I find it easier to tell the truth, even when it's unpleasant.
91. It's probably because I don't give a shit about anything these days.
92. None of my friends or co-workers know I'm depressed.
93. I'm too worried about what they would think.
94. I can't go to the post office without a full face of makeup because I'm too worried about what people think.
95. I don't want them to think I'm ugly.
96. I'm not really sure why I care.
97. I've had the same hairstyle since I was 12.
98. I'm too scared to change it.
99. I'm too scared to do a lot of things.
100. I wish that I wasn't.