Tag Archives: help

Present Knowledge Out of the Past

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Fair Forewarning: This post deals with intense emotional/physical trauma and abuse

The last two weeks, last three weekends, I have not so much as stepped outside my comfort zone as leaped outside it.

Two weekends ago (night of July 1st), I agreed to stay late in town to watch the fireworks, then go to a dance and stay over at a friend’s house. I have never gone to an adult dance or club before. And have basically never slept over at someone’s house as an adult (outside of relationships), despite several attempts at it.

Last weekend was Pride. My friends convinced me to march in the parade. I have never seen the parade, never gone to any pride events and certainly never marched before. Knowing how I work, I convinced myself to go to another dance on Saturday night and stay over at (the same) friend’s house then go to the march together. On Saturday when I was getting ready to go, I got a phone call saying the bloodwork I’d done first thing in the morning had come back and the numbers were off which meant I needed to see my GP ASAP. I had only just given myself my first low-dose of testosterone at the time. Later, at the dance, I ended up hanging out mostly with two guys who I had just met, dancing, and chatting. The night at my friend’s house went fine, and we got to the parade on time. However, after parting ways (he was marching with a different group), I couldn’t locate my group. I walked the length of the parade and asked for help, but no one could help me. That drove me to actually make a phone call, something I only very rarely do, to a friend who equally dislikes phone calls. I finally met up with my group, and that friend, and realized that I was in the middle of a full blown anxiety attack.

My last anxiety attack, and my first one (only ever had three) were in the first half of my four months of no sleep, three years ago.

I did the march, I couldn’t not. My friend I spent the night with had my backpack at his house, and my current primary support network was right there in the parade. So, I marched. At the end, where the celebrations were, I told my friends that I needed to be with them in some quiet spot for a little bit. We ended up sitting for close to two hours before I was okay to move around again. After that, the day went well.

The fallout has been beyond imagination.

The disassociation I experienced with the risperidone had far reaching effects. I’m still working on putting all the pieces together of what changed and what I lost and what needs finding again. I found one of those pieces at Pride last weekend and I never knew I’d lost it.

The anxiety attacks I had three years ago were paired with a heightened general anxiety due to lack of sleep and lack of control over my general life situation. But, they were isolated.

The anxiety attack I had last weekend opened a door in my mind to realizing what anxiety actually feels like. That door stayed open and I realized that I live my life on a daily basis just sitting at the edge of anxiety.

I’ve spent the last week trying to work through it and process why I’m feeling the way I’m feeling. Certainly, I shouldn’t feel anxious about getting on a bus, something I do 4-10 times a day every day, but this week has taught me that I do. One of my coping mechanisms, one of my ways of processing things, is to have conversations. I will end up having the same conversation over and over and over again until I’ve completely exhausted all the people I can confide in so I can try to deconstruct everything that happened and everything that I’m feeling. I’ve spent my week in conversations.

Which brings me to this weekend and some of my big eye-openers about why I feel the way I feel.

On Thursday, I went to dinner with a friend. We had initially bonded over some awkward experiences with one of our mutual friends, but are working on expanding our friendship beyond that. Our conversation inevitably moved to the trauma of our lives. I ended up sharing one story that I’ve only told a handful of people. When I did, he told me that he knew immediately that was why I was having issues spending the night at someone’s house. After he and I parted ways, I shared the same story with my safe person that I marched with (the one I made the phone call to). He told me that he knew I was a victim of sexual violence, but didn’t want to pry. On Friday, I spent some time with the safe friend, his girlfriend, and another friend of ours. They convinced me to spend the night at the safe friend’s house so I could go do some construction work with the girlfriend and other friend in the morning. They seemed to think it would help. On the way to pick up my stuff, I told the other friend (who was giving me a ride to my house then to my safe friend’s house) the same story I’d told the first two friends on Thursday. They told me some of the ways that they did their healing and suggested a program for me to investigate to help work through what happened. If you’re not following, that’s three people in two days I told about this thing that happened. This morning, I woke up at my safe friend’s house and went to do the construction work. I lasted until noon before I had to say I was done and we all trooped home.

Four Years Ago (read at discretion)

Four years ago, I was living in an abusive situation. I was a live-in nanny for a family that did not have a healthy dynamic. They took advantage of me and my time. I was accused of not being honest about my experience and skills. I was manipulated into agreeing to stay multiple times when I tried to quit. I was so emotionally exhausted that there were several points that I broke down to tears in the middle of the day. As an escape, I rode my bike and I went to the local pub. In just 7.5 months of owning that bicycle, I put over 3,000km on it and wore the tires almost bare. I was a well-known regular at the pub and expected almost nightly from 7pm until 2 or 3 in the morning. I became friends with a very diverse group of people including a music producer, an engineer-turned-cook, and one of the local Italian Mob Bosses. I was also friends with some younger people who didn’t come nearly as regularly as I did.

One night, it was cold, icy, and I was tired and very drunk when the bar closed. I didn’t want to ride my bike home. A friend offered me somewhere to sleep for the night, said he’d take me to breakfast in the morning, then drop me off at the house I was working out of. I took him up on the offer and told him, very explicitly, “I’m not interested in doing anything, just sleep. I’m sleeping in my clothes.” He agreed that would be fine and we loaded up my bike and headed to his place.

When we got there, I realized we’d be sharing a bed. I’d been led to believe there was somewhere else for me to sleep, like a couch. Whatever, I’m adaptable. I reiterated that I wasn’t interested in anything but sleep and I was sleeping in my clothes. He wheedled and pleaded and eventually got me down to underwear and undershirt before we climbed under the covers. He asked if we could spoon and I agreed, though I wasn’t comfortable with it. He waited until I was almost asleep before he started working his hand under my shirt. I told him no, and pushed his hands away. He persisted. I asked him to stop, he persisted. I turned to tell him again, and he kissed me and stuck his hand in my underwear. He stripped me and had his way and then spooned me the rest of the night like this was an okay thing. In the morning, he woke me up to do it again. Then we got dressed and he took me to breakfast and dropped me off at the kids’ house like everything was all fine and grand.

And then he kept coming to the same bar and being friendly with me.

I kept telling myself that I should have known something like that would happen. That there’s a certain expectation when a man brings a woman to his home after a night at the bar. That I should have been more adamant in not taking off my outer clothes. That I should have just gone home instead of staying out that night.

It took two years of feeling negative feelings every time I saw one of his facebook posts to admit that it was rape. To admit that it wasn’t my fault. To admit that I was taken advantage of, assaulted. I told only three people initially. This weekend, two years later, I told three more. And now I’m telling, well, whoever reads this.

In my conversations this week, I’ve realized that a great many of my sexual/romantic relationships have had some level of abuse in them. My first two sexual partners coerced me into sex, convincing me it was something I wanted (which it was, just not with either of them). My second sexual partner (third romantic relationship of any level of seriousness) was emotionally abusive and manipulative and isolating. He played off my OCD to get me to do things and then made me feel horrible for not doing them perfectly. He slowly drew me away from my family and friends while not adding me to his own circles. My most recent romantic relationship had a certain level of coercion to it as well, to the point of twisting what I wanted into what he wanted when it came to my surgery (perhaps you remember my posts about that). When he asked for me back, I laid out certain things that could not be negotiated, that he had to agree to, that he had to accept, and he refused. One of them was that I am hard on the male side of binary, that I cannot be referred to with female pronouns/pet names, and that I need to be seen and treated as a guy. He told me that he didn’t know those things were hurtful (despite the fact that we’d talked about it the few times he did use them), and that he wasn’t gay and that he never saw me as either gender.

Finding Anxiety (mostly safer reading now)

Since Pride last weekend, I’ve realized what anxiety feels like. I’ve realized that I feel it every day. I’ve realized that it has a great many sources and there is a lot of work I need to do to bring myself back to a level of peace. I’ve also realized that I’ve lived with this daily anxiety for a very, very long time. I cannot pinpoint a single time when I have not had anxious tendencies, though some of them are certainly much worse now than they were 10 years ago when I was still in high school and before the sexual abuse.

I’ve been a compulsive picker (of scabs and skin) for as long as I can remember. My body is laddered with scars from picking and repicking my scabs and scars. I have had self-harm ideation for as long as I can remember. (This has never included suicide.) One of my earliest memories is of taking a hammer to my knee, purely to break it. I had a plan for how I would explain the injury to my parents. But I wasn’t strong enough to actually do any damage. I was 3 or 4 at the time. Since then, there have been many small successful self-harm attempts, but none needing more than a bandaid. I have had OCD manifesting in different ways since at least my preteen years. Washing the dishes was a very big problem for me for a long time (and one of my almost daily chores). There were needs to have things just right in order to actually do things, there still are. There was certain routines and rituals to using certain objects including the internet. There were obsessive tendencies to go through EVERYTHING of something (read a webcomic, beginning to end, even if it means staying up all night; read encyclopedias cover to cover, not just the entries of interest; sort through all of the photos in one location or all of the cards; look at all of the photos posted to a photo-sharing site, an impossible task that nearly broke me). There were needs to have things organized in a very specific manner (Dewy Decimal organization of my home library and, when I found it, my parent’s library).

In the last 10 years, I’ve added reluctance to engage in new situations or be in new spaces with new people. One new thing at a time, everything else must be familiar or I’m not okay with it. I have a reluctance to go over to other people’s houses, especially overnight. I’m less adaptable to any level of change unless it was rooted in something I control. And I have more obsessive thoughts circling around in my head.

Knowing what I know now about my mental-emotional state, I want to work towards finding a balance of some sort, finding some way to be at peace with my daily life. Knowing what anxiety feels like will allow me to know where my limits are and how far to stretch them. Having the friends I do around me will help me work through this in ways that are healthy, I hope.

Time Flies

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I suppose I should update, since it’s been a while.

I got in to see the counselors at the university, specifically, the counselor that was recommended by my counselor at the college. He’s a great guy, listens well, helped me get in a good headspace. I saw him twice before I realized I probably don’t actually need counselling right now. I’m in a pretty good space right now and don’t feel the need to work through anything.

I also got in to see a psychiatrist at the university. Finally. The appointment was over an hour and a half long and went through my entire mental health history. He actually read my files going back years. He took me seriously. I recognized my need for a diagnosis and is working with me on that. He gave three preliminary names of what I might have, but he wants more information before he actually gives a diagnosis. Schizoaffective disorder, borderline personality disorder, and Asperger’s (high functioning autism). He gave me a printout to have my parents fill out and they went over it when I was up to see them for Thanksgiving. Hopefully that will give him some clues. I’m ready to be armed with a diagnosis that will help me find ways to cope and make things better.

In a non-mental health vein, something happened with my physical health that has been weighing on my mind as well. A couple months ago, I started lactating. I saw a walk-in doctor first and she ordered a battery of bloodwork. I saw my GP a week later and he didn’t see anything alarming in the bloodwork but suggested I talk to my endocrinologist (who I’m working with through my gender transition because I’m on hormones). I saw him a couple weeks later and he was concerned by my bloodwork. My prolactin level was 99, normal is 25. He didn’t seem to think that it was because of my being on testosterone (though that’s a common problem) and ordered a CT Scan and some more bloodwork. I’m still waiting on the scan, but it should happen soon. He said that the scan would look for a growth on the pituitary gland which would cause the spike in prolactin. My research has found that the growths are fairly common and mostly benign, but I’m still worried. What if it isn’t?

In terms of transition, everything’s on track. I got in for my consult for top surgery a couple weeks ago, which means the surgery itself will be in three to four months, a lot faster than it was originally going to be. I’m excited and more than a little nervous. Part of the nerves come from wondering if I’m going to have enough funds saved up to make it through the two month recovery. I hope so.

I think that’s everything of note.

prescriptions and consultations

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A week after I went to the hospital, I saw my GP. He decided to up my dose again. I’m now on 3mg of risperidone. He prescribed me three months worth of that and the sleeping pills and had me book a followup in August.

I heard from general psych a month and a half after I got the referral from the hospital. They referred me to the gender psychiatrist I saw and refuse to talk to me further about the problems with that referral. I have yet to hear from the psychiatrist, so we’ll see how that goes.

A week ago, I had an appointment with one of my therapists at the college. She’s the one who specializes in sleep. She has me doing another 2 week sleep log to see what it looks like with me on my meds. So far, it doesn’t look that bad, except I’m sleeping too long and not getting out of bed after I wake up in the morning. She seems to think that I might have restless leg syndrome, which is contributing to my inability to sleep. I don’t disagree. In order to get a diagnosis, though, I need to do a sleep study. In the meantime, the sleep therapist wants me to try sleep training a bit to get into better sleep habits. This means she wants me to stop reading in bed. Reading’s the only thing that gets me to sleep. I’ve tried reading then going to bed and I just lay awake for hours on end. I see her again in a week.

Today, I got the news that I have a consultation for top surgery (breast removal for female to male transgender) in January. I’m very excited about that and can hardly wait.

Over the last few months, I’ve seen my mom a fair bit and every time she’s said she thinks I look spacey and seem flat. I agree that I’ve been flat. I don’t know what the trigger was for that change, but it was worse than ever before. One of my customers even mentioned it to me. It’s gotten better in the last couple weeks and I’ve been excited and happy, smiling and joking again, so I think I’m on the mend from that bout of depression?

During that same time, I was experiencing heightened anxiety, specifically around going to work. The way my coworkers were acting towards me was making me anxious. I got talked to about my own behaviour at work and how I contributed on a shift, which really didn’t help any. Our store moved though, and since the move, things have slowly been getting better. I’m less anxious now than I was a few weeks ago, which is really helpful for the rest of feeling better.

Other than that, I seem to be doing okay. As far as I know, I’m not hallucinating, though I suspect I’m seeing flies that aren’t there, but can’t confirm. I’ve been eating decently, not great. I’ve also been more active riding my bike. Riding the bike is tough, especially with the sleep schedule, but I’m working on it and getting better at just doing it. I want to be in better shape, not just in general, but specifically for top surgery.

I think that’s it.

Of Hospitals and Dosing

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Last Wednesday, I decided to take myself to the hospital again.

Over the preceeding several days, I’d been having increasing paranoid type thoughts and increasing self harm thoughts. To be sure, the self harm thoughts weren’t new, but they were getting into the realm of encouraging me to do some serious damage including taking a knife to my arms and legs and slamming my head into the cement sidewalk and walking into traffic. I’ve self harmed in the past and know when I’m close to giving in to my thoughts and actually following through.

On Wednesday, I called my mom to ask her advice. She had none but to call the crisis line, which I did. They advised me to go to the hospital. I called my mom and told her that was going to happen on Thursday.

Thursday was my day off. I figured I could get up early and take myself, but as the night wore on, and the thoughts tumbled through my head, I knew I would harm if I went home. I asked my coworker, a friend of mine, if he’d be able to drive me to the hospital, on the other side of the city, after we closed the store. Amazing friend he is, he agreed to. (I don’t know what I did to get such great friends, but they’re awesome. I bought this one a craft beer he had his eye on the next time I saw him in thanks, since he refused gas money.) We stopped by my house and grabbed a few things (change my shirt, grab my meds and a soft cover book) and then drove to the hospital.

I checked in at midnight. It was a busy night, so I didn’t see the ER doctor until 5am. Since I hadn’t seen the ER doctor yet, they wouldn’t give me my meds, which meant I didn’t sleep. I stayed up the whole night just reading that soft cover book I thought to bring. The morning was entertaining as the other patients got up. I talked to a few of them and found out that most of them were waiting for beds in the long term ward. By 11 I saw the Psychiatrist.

She talked to me for a bit. Her assessment was that my dose was too low on the antipsychotics. They’re now adjusted permanently up to 2mg, at least for the time being. She seems to think that the dose was lowered too soon. She also put in a referral for me to general psych, as opposed to the emergency psych that I’d been referred to by my GP and had seen previously after the last time I was at the hospital. I think that general psych was where I was originally referred that took forever to look at my file and lead to me going to the hospital in the first place, but I could be wrong.

Time will tell, but, for now at least, I’m stable.

Inching Toward Answers

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A week ago, I saw the psychiatrist and therapist at the same time. Together we talked about things like my transition, my general mood, where things are going, and how things have been.

The hallucinations have officially stopped. I’m grateful for that, but I can’t help but keep wondering when they’re going to show up again. Generally, I have to say that things have improved. I’m sleeping better (though it’s taking me a couple hours to fall asleep again, up from 20 minutes or so when I first went on the meds). I don’t have any compulsions right now, so that’s good. When we discussed those, the psych seemed to agree that they were OCD like. She encouraged me, next time I notice one, to push past the anxiety and let the anxiety happen until it goes away.

My mood has been, well, flat. My mom first identified it over the phone the night before the appointment. I repeated it to the therapist and then again to the psych and we talked about what that meant. I’m not excited, can’t get happy or feel sad, and generally don’t really care. I want to care and be excited and eager and all that, but I can’t. The big word that popped up here is depression.

I’ve known that depression is a possibility, but it felt so real for them to say it. Thinking about it later, it made sense. The psych wants to wait and see what’s happening, give it time to manifest or whatever and decide on medication when I see her again in a month.

On the note of medication, she also wanted to reduce the dose of the antipsychotic. I was taking 2mg of risperidone at bedtime every day. She bumped me down to 1.5mg. Since doing that, I’ve noticed no change, so I’m going to stick with it.

The psych also wanted to talk about my transition a bit. She wanted to know why I wanted to transition and how I saw that working. I talked about how I’ve always felt, how I’ve always leaned towards the masculine and roleplayed the boy in games. How I always picked boys clothes first and fought wearing the dresses. I talked about feeling okay about myself, but uncomfortable wearing flattering clothing anyway. About how I’ve always been more comfortable when perceived male. I mentioned that I wanted to have a baby or two later down the line and that’d be okay. And I talked about being excited for top surgery (getting rid of my breasts) which should happen in the next year and a half. I don’t know what she thought of it all, but I’m glad I got it out.

Today, I had another appointment with the therapist. We continued the conversation from last week, going more into the flatness and general emotion state. I talked about how I haven’t done the dishes or cleaned the living room in a while and that’s a problem. We talked about how I’m always well groomed when I go out (and I do shower regularly even without expectations from somewhere else), but my house is a mess. We talked more about how sleep is an issue and I’m sleeping more but it’s harder to fall asleep and I’m still tired all the time.

She wanted to know about my plans for having a baby and how they fit in with my transition. She had no idea anything related to transgender care, so I’m happy to educate. I told her about the possibility of birth defects if you get pregnant while on testosterone. I talked about the wait time between going off the hormones and trying to get pregnant. I talked about how I’m really after the secondary sex characteristics (facial hair, deeper voice, no chest) that stick around after hormones have stopped, so stopping them will be no problem for me. Having a baby is something I’m excited about, it’s something I look forward to. I’m sad I won’t be able to breastfeed, but I know it’ll be okay anyway.

We also talked a lot about my future, what I want to be doing and where I want to go. She asked me, if I could wave a magic wand, what would it fix. I told her I wouldn’t have any more issues with money. Money seems to be a big issue. Last month I was playing “pick two” where the three I had to pick from where meds, rent, and food. I’m still really tight on my budget and not sure how I’m going to make ends meet properly with enough to spare to save for the vacations I really want to go on, but I’m sure I’ll figure something out.

The therapist says there’s lots of stressors, lots of reasons to be feeling anxiety between work and school and future plans and transitioning. My life’s in turmoil right now and it makes sense for me to be in turmoil mentally.

She gave me homework, and I’ll have to think about it. She wants me to write out (since writing comes easier than speaking) what I want out of life, where I want to be.

This afternoon, I saw the counselor at the college. I gave her a brief overview of how things have been going with mental health and the psych and therapist and where we’re at there. Then we got into the meat of her appointment.

We started where we left off last time, with the “addiction” to the internet and how that’s an issue. I said it wasn’t really an issue anymore. It isn’t, really. I can stop any time I want, I’m just not motivated to do anything else. And really motivation is the big problem. We talked a lot about motivation, that was the big heart of what we talked about.

Right now, I’m really externally motivated. I do my homework because it’s for a team project and if I don’t do my part, others suffer. I go to work because my manager and coworkers expect me there. I go to class because there’s a team meeting every class. I go to appointments because the person I made the appointment with expects me there. I’m not motivated to do anything for me.

We talked about the self care issues that I’ve got, with the apartment a complete disaster and mold growing in the dishes. It’s completely not healthy to be living like that. I’m not motivated to cook for myself when it’s like that because it requires too much effort. If it were like that and someone were to come over, I’d spend the time to clean up in preparation. I’d clean up and do the work to make meals for someone else, but not for me.

I want to want to care, but I don’t.

After a lot of back and forth, the counselor narrowed it down to the idea that I don’t think I deserve the best of care. She said, if I were a nanny for myself, I’d be fired. It’s true, I would. But what I need to do is start treating myself as I would someone I were caring for, or like a team project. A team project with me, myself, and I is a good analogy. I’s the slacker, always making excuses. “I don’t care,” “I don’t want to make the effort,” “I don’t want to,” “I can’t be bothered.” If me and myself can make it work despite the I, maybe eventually, we’ll get I on board.

My homework from her is to start telling myself “I deserve the very best of care.” I’m to start thinking about providing that care, but the important thing first is to make sure I know that I deserve it. Right now the phrase seems awkward and uncomfortable, maybe that will change.

I feel like I’m on the right track with all this. I’m going to see the counselor again and keep working on things with her. Because I seem to be working on different things with the counselor from the therapist and psych, I don’t mind continuing to see them both. It kind of makes sense. I’m still overwhelmed by everything, anxious about how things are going, are they going fast enough or too fast. I wish I wasn’t so flat right now, I want to get excited again. We’ll see, I guess, maybe things will get better.

An Interesting Feeling

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It’s an interesting feeling, knowing you want to hurt yourself. The act of hurting yourself is called self harm, and it’s not a new thought for me.

The first time I remember deliberately hurting myself was when I was four and decided to take a hammer to my knee. This wasn’t just a random thought. I took my dad’s hammer and brought it to my bedroom. I sat on the top bunk of the bed and started trying to hammer my kneecap. I intended to break it, hide the hammer, and fall off the bed, blaming the break on the fall. When I couldn’t break my knee after trying for a while, I started crying, composed myself, returned the hammer, and pretended like nothing happened. I blamed the bruise that showed up later on falling during play.

That was the first time, and I’ve hurt myself many times since, always in such a way I could blame it on something else. During middle and high school, I used my pocket knife to cut. I’d always cut in such a way to make it look like a cat scratch. I got enough of those anyway that it was a normal enough cut for me to have. I haven’t actually cut for over three years and two years ago, when I was packing for a move, I tossed the knife I used as a statement that I wouldn’t cut anymore.

I never really tried to hurt myself like I did when I was four, break a bone. There were a few times I came close, but never followed through.

The only other self harm I’ve done is chronically scratched, picked my scabs. I’m covered in scars from doing this. Head to toe. I don’t remember ever not picking scabs. It got to the point that when I was eight, I could tell what kind of scab would bleed and what kind was far enough healing that it wouldn’t bleed if I picked it.

There’s four stages to self harm: desire, plan, motivation, action.

Right now, I have three plans for hurting myself. 1: Slam my head on the coffee table. 2: “Trust fall” onto the coffee table, landing on my back. 3: Standing close enough to the curb that the bus mirror hits my head (pick any bus stop downtown).

What’s stopping me is my lack of motivation. Well, I’m motivated enough to do it, but I’m stopped by external obligations. Classes are about to start and I’ll set myself back if I have to miss any. My coworkers would have to pick up my slack at work and if I were gone for any length of time, my boss would hire someone new. I need all the hours I can get at work just to pay rent. My cat would need someone to take care of her. And I’ll miss my doctor’s appointments: psychologist this Thursday and GP next Thursday.

I can’t tell you why I want to hurt myself. I explained the cutting (to those who knew) as wanting to feel, but that’s a lie; I feel well enough. I’m not depressed, sad, upset, angry, scared. (Okay, right now I’m a little scared, but I think that’s separate. I’m scared about what’s going on with the hallucinations and what they mean for my future.) I don’t want to end my life. I guess on a certain level, it’s curiosity, but that’s still not why.

In my world, self harm is just another feeling, like hot or cold or giggly or sad.

It’s an interesting feeling, knowing you want to hurt yourself, knowing you have a plan to hurt yourself. I don’t like the feeling and I wish it would go away, but hey, it’s there, so I’ve just got to accept it, right?

In other news, I’ve been recently wondering what it would take for me to get admitted to the hospital for a stay in the psych ward. I’ve thought about calling the crisis line and asking, but I’m not sure I want to know the answer. I also don’t want to be admitted for the same reasons I don’t want to harm myself. I feel like if I were admitted, though, I’d get some answers faster than just waiting around for them and going to regular appointments. We’ll see, though. Next appointment is Thursday.

Tap on the Shoulder

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Recall that trick you sometimes play, or sometimes gets played on you. You feel a tap on your (right) shoulder and turn to look, but no one’s there. You look the other way (left) and there’s your friend. You laugh and then carry on. It’s funny, right?

Well. it’s like that… all the time.

Maybe it’s a sound.
You hear a box fall over in the kitchen, but everything’s standing up when you check. You hear a couple bottles clink together, but you’re alone. You hear something soft hit the floor in the other room, but nothing fell. You hear a car honk its horn, really close, but there’s no cars for at least three blocks. You hear someone knock on the door or window, but no one’s there. You hear a song on the radio, but the radio’s off.

Maybe it’s a sight.
You see a spider crawling across the floor, but nothing’s there. You see someone’s shadow from behind you, but no one’s there. You see your cat walk down the hall, but she’s sleeping right beside you. You see a cord swinging, but the air is still and no one’s near it. You see that candy you planned on eating on the edge of the counter, but it’s not there when you go to grab it. You see an extra word in a paragraph, or maybe there’s one paragraph less. You see someone walk past the window, but no one’s outside.

Maybe it’s a feeling.
You feel the cat brush up against your leg, but she’s sleeping in the other room. You feel pinpricks on your leg, but there’s nothing on it and it’s not touching anything. You feel your pet jump onto the bed, but they’re already asleep beside your head. You feel a spider crawling on your bare skin, but there isn’t one there. You feel that tap on your shoulder, but you really are alone.

This is my every day. Even on my meds. When I went to get them, these hallucinations were bad, but not that bad. They were just enough that it was starting to get hard to tell what was real. After a couple weeks on them, I was still having some hallucinations, so they upped my meds. That seemed to fix things for a bit, but the hallucinations are back and bad.

When I do hallucinate, it is real enough that I can’t tell the difference from reality. If I’m not alone, I’ll ask for confirmation from whoever I’m with. I might get a funny look, but usually I get told that it wasn’t real.

Now I’m starting to question my friends. Not verbally, but I catch myself asking mentally “really?” When I do, I’ll stop myself and remind that they must know better, they’re not going mental. Usually it works.

On finding out I was questioning and inching towards paranoia, my best friend asked me why I’m not institutionalized yet. It’s a good question, but I guess you have to be a threat to yourself or others in order for them to do that.