Health

Lately I’ve been having heart palpitations, many times a day, and nosebleeds after being really upset, and this is new. Also heartburn. I haven’t had heartburn for a good 5 years – not since I became vegetarian.

So off to the doctor I go – if nothing else, I think it’ll be important to tease out the physical vs. psychological causes of this. Though I’m not even convinced it can be done. I’ve gotten sort of used to some aspect of my health failing me constantly. If it’s not one thing, it’s another. And that really is what constant stress does to your body! (See: On Running Away. This is why I’m running away!)

I’m in my early 20’s. This is ridiculous. I really have to remember this fact, or I will just get used to this…and then it could become dangerous. Bad habit! 

Have you experienced anything like this? I would be so happy to not feel so alone. 

– Catalina

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On Running Away

I’ve been thinking a lot this summer, writing a lot privately, and talking to friends and family.

I’ve come to a few realizations, and so I thought I would share in case they help you, too. When I look back on my life, I see that I’ve felt the worst, and been in most danger from the hauntings of my deep seated sadness and fear, when I felt trapped. Helpless. Hurting myself has often been my way of trying to “run away”.

So here’s a thought. Why don’t I simply…run away? I have two feet and a good head on my shoulders. No, I’m not going to go missing, don’t worry! I am just going to take some things into my own hands, even if others around me don’t approve. What is more important – pleasing others, or my own sanity? For once, I actually think it might be the latter.

I’m “running away”. I’m doing it for me. The risk of staying where I am has finally grown greater than the risk of moving forward. Wish me luck!

The Forgotten

Trigger Warning: alcohol use, sexual assault

There have been two times in my life where I’ve ‘lost’ chunks of time – without the aid ill-advised beer-before-liquor combos.

In my last “the Appointment” post, I mentioned that I had seen a new doctor, and will be seeing her shortly one more time. Something she said in that appointment struck me, and I’ve been thinking about it since.

She asked me if I’d ever ‘forgotten’ a chunk of time, and of course I had; not recently, but twice as a child. So I told her as much, and she replied that it must have been scary.

I nodded, feeling like that was the right response, and not sure how to explain the truth – that it wasn’t, not at all.

It was a huge relief both times, to go on with my day without the weight of whatever those minutes or hour (it’s difficult to know which it was, as I didn’t admit to anyone that I’d lost time) would have brought upon me.There was also a vague fascination with the idea that I could just suddenly find myself transported safely out of a terrifying situation. To my young mind, it felt like magic – and I did chase magic for as long as my youthful naivete allowed me.

Later in life, I would remember that relief when I systematically drank to blackout each Friday night in my first year of school, crying it all out without the burden of remembering my shame and loss as a result of sexual assault earlier that year.

I had less “embarrassing” fits of crying in my crowded dorm room. I could make friends and focus more at school. My flashbacks became fewer and more far between as I drank, cried, forgot, lived, repeat. Just like magic, it was over – I thought.

I no longer get blackout drunk, for safety and for my friends’ sake, who would remember me falling apart each Friday even when I, blessedly, could not. But neither do I have a moral to the story.

I guess what I’m trying to highlight is the complexity of the apparently not-uncommon experience of dissociating. It certainly doesn’t feel like a box I can check on a symptom list and be diagnosed. I’m certainly still confused about what it meant to me.

Not to mention the unsettling fact that my teenage binge drinking produced the same not-unpleasant ‘shielding’ effect as my own brain had done earlier. I was lucky that the drinking didn’t have worse consequences, and have only incredible friends, female and male alike, to thank for protecting me. I am aware that alcohol often has deadly serious consequences. It is the #1 date rape drug in terms of popularity, and I take that very seriously.

But first-year ‘me’ was certainly too overwhelmed with trying to forget previous assault to be worrying about the possibility of any in future. I was raised in the widespread culture that tells us rapists are few and far-between ‘monsters’, and I had assumed one was all I was ever going to meet – this was false, unfortunately.

Thanks for reading,

– C.

Le Advice from Madam Le Strange

trigger warning: shocking lack of sensitivity with regards to mental health, belittling, questionable figure of authority


From an anxiety/depression group director, when I told her my therapist strongly encouraged me to find additional intensive treatment, and I wondered if she could provide me with any information, being that she is part of the psychiatry department at a major hospital.

I think all you really need is a good YOGA INSTRUCTOR. That should do the trick

As she smiled serenely, and I stared disbelievingly.

You can kiss my downward dog, Madam Le Strange.

Image

…but if you want to pay for me to go on an all-inclusive beach yoga retreat, I will gladly oblige you! 😉 from http://www.self.com/flash/tone-it-up/2013/05/toneitup-work-your-abs-butt-and-chest/

 

 

 

The Appointment

Next week, I have an appointment to be assessed as a potential participant in the only publicly-funded day program I’ve found in my region for the treatment of anxiety disorders (private ones will run you upwards of $15 000, which is just not gonna happen – I’m no Lindsey Lohan.)

I got lucky – they were booking for September, however they had an unexpected opening. Now, this program is part of a larger program within a really large institution. I spent quite a while on the phone with various representatives, each qualified to give out a very small amount of information. All pretty grumpy. I get it – is there anywhere left in this world where public health teams aren’t overworked and underpaid? But I hope, I hope, I hope that the doctors won’t be like this as well. I get sassy when psychiatrists can’t find it in themselves to be sensitive enough while asking incredibly personal questions.

This program does not run in my town, but in a larger city a few hours away. It spans the 9-5 workday, 5 days a week, for about two months. It will require a substantial amount of planning on my part to be able to participate. So, when I was on the phone with representatives, I tried to inquire about the dates of upcoming sessions of the program. They were not able to give me any information, instead telling me that I have no guarantee of being able to participate at all; that that is not for me to determine but for the doctors that will be assessing me in the intake appointment.

Well, fudge. Now this feels like a test. Not to mention, as with many of my mental health care experiences within the public realm of health care, I can feel my independence, my role within my own health care, slipping away. Will my sass make me fail the test? Or will I overcompensate, working to appear less affected by my anxiety disorder than I am, since I sure practice that skill a lot, and it’s lead to inaccurate diagnoses and health care in the past? Will these doctors weight my ‘performance’ in this quasi-interview more heavily, or will they put more weight in the detailed letter they received from the psychologist that lead my treatment for over a year? I have no way of knowing. At least I will come out with a little bit less uncertainty, a little bit sooner, with regards to my future plans.

So – next week I will walk myself in there, see what happens, and if nothing else, bring you back some ‘inside info’, should you ever need it, about the process.

– Catalina

Ooooooops

I couldn’t do it, I just couldn’t go back to the lead-up to my hospital stay. And it’s given me writers block! I have learned that there will be some goals that I just won’t meet – and there are definitely a bunch that I won’t meet on my questionable schedule of when I can do things. Will you accept an IOU on that rather difficult story?