I’m meaner than my demons/I’m bigger than these bones

It’s been such a long while since I’ve written in here.  I don’t know if it’s avoidance or forgetfulness at this point.  What I do know is that I’ve backslid and I’m slithering around on my belly like a tongueless snake.

I had the surgery and I’ve lost about 50 pounds.  I honestly think, for once, I’m returning to my baseline physical self.  I never saw myself as this fat, huge overweight thing. Body dysmorphia is quite common for people after the surgery; my mother struggles with it daily.  I wasn’t always fat – I was a skinny kid.  I see myself losing weight and – don’t tell anyone – but I feel fucking awesome.  I think I look fucking hot.  Aside from the loose skin I’ve acquired, I feel my confidence going up.  People at work keep commenting on how great I look, and while I don’t particularly enjoy that, I do like the looks I give myself.  Pretty narcissistic sounding, huh?  It’s not like that, though.  I used to look at myself and glare.  I’d give myself a once-over in the mirror, gazing at each body part with hatred and disgust.  Each body part was subject to ridicule and hazing by me, every day.  There were some days I couldn’t bear to look at myself at all.  I’m fucking done with that.  I look at myself – loose skin and all – and see someone who struggled with a lot of shit, but won’t give up.  I see a woman who is not just a fighter, but gorgeous inside and out.  Not just because she has a sexy husband that wants to fuck her every minute of every day (God he’s seriously relentless), but because she believes it now.  She doesn’t need his validation or anyone else’s.  Who knew it would only take a $40,000 surgery to get to this point?  Oy vey.

So I just got out of the psych ward.  Ha!  Didn’t see that coming, did you?  Alice: always full of surprises.  It had been over a decade since I last graced their halls with my presence.  The staff remembered me.  I’m still trying to decide if that’s good or bad.  My schedule affected my medication schedule and then I stopped taking it all together.  Then I slipped into a manic phase.  I told my family that I wasn’t taking that “poison” anymore, I was “normal” without it.  I was also unable to concentrate on anything, I was the best at everything ever in life, I was getting 4 hours of sleep at night, and couldn’t sit still worth a damn.

Then I fell.  Hard.

I couldn’t get out of bed.  I wouldn’t shower for days.  I would cry at nothing.  Or something, anything.  I’d get frustrated at little things.  I just couldn’t function worth shit.  So I called my psychiatrist.  He told me he was having me admitted to the psych ward.  I was there for a week.  He put me on FMLA and here I sit, at home, taking my meds… ish.

I told him I’m fucking trained.  I know better than to not take them.  I know that the incidence of bipolar patients not taking their meds is higher than any other mental illness because we think we’re getting better, stop taking them and fall on our faces.  I said I know the stats, I’ve read the studies, I know this shit and did it anyway.

He said, “That’s how you know it’s the disease, Alice.  Not you.”

Being in the psych ward as a mental health professional was a nightmare.  You think they treat you any better?  Nope.  Still just a fucking nut in a ward full o’ nuts.  I didn’t expect to be treated better than anyone else but I think I’ve become more aware of the stigma than I had in years past. I never remember the staff being so dismissive and cold. Even the social workers, who claim to help even the playing field between the professionals and the patients were at times condescending and patronizing.  I reminded them that we shared the same credentials, same degree and performed the same functions in our profession as a way of humanizing myself however I doubt it did much good as I was still cast aside when asking for simple things like respect.  During a group session, one social worker stated part of their job is to educate the other staff members, including the doctors, about mental health.  I actually fell out laughing.  I said that, as noble as that may be, the worst stigma against mental illness I have ever seen has been in the medical community.  I explained that I am terrified my co-workers will find out that I am in the psych ward, as I was in my own employer’s medical system and in our computer system it will show that I was there.  I further explained that none of the doctors I work with have any interest or desire to work with psych patients; they actually express disdain for the entire population.   The nurses at my hospital are mostly impatient and rude when treating a psych patient and want nothing more than for my department to hurry up and get them out of the hospital.  I have social workers who actually said to me they hate working with “bipolars” because they are constantly going off their meds and have wild mood swings.  So, excuse my skepticism when discussing “educating” the medical staff – I’m sure it’s going well.

The nurses and nurse’s aides were a fucking nightmare.  It didn’t help that they’d rather surf Facebook and Instagram than do their fucking jobs. Aside for a select few, they treated me like I didn’t know my own body.  And, not to sound like a dick, but like they knew more about psych than I did.  As someone who’s been on both sides – a patient and a professional – I can safely say that’s bullshit.  And as an employee at that hospital I knew corporate policy, so they couldn’t fuck me around when it came to that either.  Plus, this isn’t my first rodeo.  I’ve been hospitalized about 7 times.  Go fuck yourself; I know how this goes.  I wasn’t in the mood to be fucked with.  Not to mention the fact that my psychiatrist is on staff and we’ve been working together for over a decade.  I know that he always has my best interests at heart and will go to bat for me (and did) when I need him to.

So.  You’re caught up.  Time for my meds.


Angels lie to keep control

Hopefully this is the darkest I’ll ever get on here, folks. 

Hopefully this is the darkest corner in which you’ll have found me and the deepest within the forest of depression I’ll ever hide. 

Before I finished my last post was the first time in a very long time I had come to suicide.  The sheer amount of stress and depression was all consuming and swallowed me whole. 

I’m still fighting my way out, but at least I’m able to function right now. Over the weekend I wasn’t taking care of my hygiene, wouldn’t get out of bed, ate my husband’s entire birthday cake, 2.5 pints of ice cream, and wouldn’t engage in day to day human activities like talking. I blew up on my mother for asking me to pick up something off the floor. 

My husband says I don’t treat him like he matters when I’m this depressed. He says I don’t treat him like a husband but like a buddy or a friend. It comes from years of pushing people away. Every time someone gets close to me, I step back. It’s so strange to never live in the same household as my father and pick up his traits.  

I have 2 friends – Alissa and Elizabeth – who are both very close to me. I’ve known Elizabeth for over 20 years. We reconnected a few years back and have grown closer since. She’s truly a good friend. She tries to psychoanalyze me at times which I’m not the biggest fan of (not qualified to do!), but I know she means well.  Here’s the deal: for every inch she scooches closer, I pull back six. It’s not something I do consciously, it’s just done. Moving closer would make me too vulnerable and I’m in no position for that.  

My other friend, Alissa is also a counselor. She suffers with depression (I personally think she’s got more than depression, but I’m not in the business of diagnosing my friends) like I do so we commiserate together. We both work in the same area with the same population so, again, we commiserate about work stress and drama. She and I have grown very close. As she grows closer or needs more support, I fucking run – I don’t understand why.  When I need support, I hide from her until I feel well enough to express my feelings without being under suspicion of being suicidal. I’m always afraid she’ll petition me or send the police to my house to check on me because she’s a counselor. I refuse to go into a hospital involuntarily – I know what they’re like and I’m not ruining my career by sitting next to a patient in a group session. Fuck that shit. I’ve always gone voluntarily. 

Back to the husband thing, I always back away. I told him I distance myself from everyone because it’s habit at this point and – as much sense as this doesn’t make – if I did commit suicide, I will have put so much distance between me and everyone else, it’s like it wouldn’t have mattered much if I was gone. Just a buddy, not a wife. 

H: “That doesn’t make any sense.”
Me: “Depression doesn’t make any sense. What kind of disease has you thinking that in order to survive you have to die?  Our purpose as humans is to propagate the species. We can’t do that if we’re dead.  Depression isn’t based in any reality; my thinking isn’t real.  It makes you focus on what it wants you to focus on – which is mainly your depression, nothing else.  But you always matter; you’ve always mattered.”

I explained that it’s difficult talking to him about my deepest and darkest thoughts and feelings because he’s never been there. While I’m delighted he hasn’t, explaining what Hell looks like and how it felt versus describing how it feels to someone who’s already been there are 2 separate things. (I can’t go to support groups – I may run into patients there.). So I keep to myself. I understand my Hell and I know my pain. I’ll get through this if it kills me – whether by my hand or G-d’s. 

But the levee was dry

So many changes, so little patience to write about it all.  I guess I’ll start with my latest. 

Decision to leave my job. 

I’m still 70/30 on the whole thing, but that’s still enough for me to cut ties and go. There is so much wrong with what I’ve seen and sometimes been a party of that I cannot take it anymore. I’m going into private practice where I belong. Where I’m my own boss, I make my own decisions and my own hours and I only answer to (technically) the insurance carriers during an audit of my files. I’m fucking done, y’all. 

This hospital work is draining. I thought it would be easier because you don’t form attachments to people; they’re in and out – goodbye!  Nope. Not this population. I see the same people week after month, month after year. Each time, coming into the ER with the same problem, same story:

Suicidal without a plan.
Withdrawal from drugs.
Chronic back pain that’s causing some suicidal thoughts – but they’re allergic to all pain medications except for Dilaudid.
Suicidal with a plan to OD on heroin; is an IV heroin user up to 1 gram per day usage – no history of attempts. 

Now, when I say the same people, I don’t mean the same backstory. I mean the same fucking people. Joe Blow and Heywood Jablowme come in two, maybe three times a month. I’ve had patients discharged at 10AM denying suicidal or homicidal thoughts and come back at 2PM, saying they are suicidal and now, homicidal with no defined target or plan.  And can they have something to eat?  Because, well what the fuck else is this place for?  I’ll go in to talk with them and ask how I can help them, what has helped in the past and some will turn me away. Because, you know – they really need some rest. Nevermind this is an ER and 5 beds away we have people having heart attacks and dying. People treat this place as a drunk tank or a free bed and breakfast. It drives me up the wall. 

What makes things worse is policy. In the ER, it’s liability and licensing. Patients who even breathe the words suicide or harm are begging to be petitioned. (A petition is a legal document that allows hospital staff to hold a person involuntarily until they can be examined by a psychiatrist or psychologist to determine if inpatient psychiatric hospitalization is necessary).  Patients don’t need to be petitioned because they have had thoughts of suicide.  People with major depression have thoughts of suicide regularly and have no intentions of committing suicide. Petitioning them could prevent them from being honest with mental health personnel in the future when they actually do have the desire to act on those thoughts.  

But lo and behold, they get petitioned and held for hours until they are evaluated by social work.  Here’s the fun part. Depending on which social worker/counselor one gets, one’s outcome for getting placed inpatient or discharged home differ.  It’s fucking subjective. I spent most of my first year trying to avoid putting people inpatient if they didn’t need it – and was fought by other social workers who would change my disposition after I left for the day (which would set me off), physician assistants, nurse practitioners and doctors.  

I realized at year two, I was fighting a losing battle. It was even more of a loss when the “frequent flyers” became more aware of what was needed for hospitalization.  Patients who we know have a very, very low likelihood of harming themselves or others, yet report otherwise with plans?  No doctor would take the liability; they go inpatient despite all of us gritting our teeth, knowing full well they are malingering. 

There are 2 sides to malingering, as far as I’m concerned. One is that the resources being used to care for the malingerer could be used for someone in a real crisis and that really chaps my ass.  Two is that someone who takes to malingering needs some type of help.  To feign illness for any type of secondary gain (e.g. Financial resources, medical care, etc.) takes a lot. The dedication used to feign illness could have been used to obtaining whatever the secondary gain was. 

Anyway. Yes. The ridiculousness. 

There is no upward mobility in the hospital unless you’re a nurse and I will be goddamned. 

I miss doing therapy. I miss actually helping people that want to be helped. Every now and again, maybe once every 2-3 months, I run across someone who is legitimately looking for help and legitimately sick. That is awful considering how many people I’ll see in a night. Many of the people I see want pain meds or a bed to sleep in and food because they’re homeless. Some people just love the attention they get in an inpatient facility because it’s more than they get at home. None of these reasons are good enough to go to an inpatient psychiatric facility – NONE – yet these are the only reasons lately that I’ve been seeing people going. I get defeated seeing it. What good am I if this is all I’m doing? Filling beds with people that don’t need the help?  

We’ve tried countless times to help the homeless people who come in, but most don’t want the help. They dismiss the shelter referrals we give out and have burned all their bridges at local transitional homes. It burns you out when you’re doing all the legwork, people do nothing and expect the world. The expectations along with the entitlement when one is not putting any effort is beyond irritating and exhausting. 

I’ve got more but I’m tired of writing. 

message from a.c. lerock

They fucked up and let me see some of my  chart. Lordy lord… this is what I bug the husband with in the middle of the day. 

And he stays. 

And I misspoke. There’s a space under the diagnosis that allows for clarification, as being depressed all the time negates a bipolar diagnosis but what people fail to realize is depression is my baseline.  

Sorry. My lack of chemicals, since a very young age, is all I’ve come to know. I’ve started back in therapy and I went back to the source: my childhood therapist. I worked with her from age 5 until my sophomore year in college, when I was raped. She said that I disappeared too soon – I had only scratched the surface in dealing with the rape and given my presentation, it seems that my mind hasn’t recovered. 

My body is now paying the price. 

So I spent a week between that session and the next thinking about everything: the rape, the aftermath, my life since then – my progress, my failures, my detours – everything – and it all made sense. My therapist was right: I stopped taking care of myself long ago.  I can’t do that anymore. I have a family, I have a husband. I have a life. I have a life I don’t want to lose. 

I told her that I have frequent suicidal thoughts with plans and access and means. But I have a huge protective factor: my husband. I told her that my husband lost his mother when he was 22 and he crawled inside a bottle to numb the pain. A year later, we started dating – he had one foot out of said bottle. I told him he’d have to stop drinking for us to date (at the time, I was a tee-totaler) and he quit. I will never send him back to that life. I will never leave him destroyed like that. He told me once that the only reason he attempts to get better paying employment is because of me, otherwise he would just live at home working a dead end job with no purpose. That leaves me to believe that I give him purpose. He gives me purpose and hope. 

I was hospitalized so many times during the first 2 years of our relationship that my own family stopped visiting. My (now) husband visited everyday, without fail. He never missed a day. Even when I didn’t want him there, he came. He’d sit through my nasty attitude and come the next day.  I finally thought to myself: Stop. Just fucking stop. This guy sees something in you. Something that’s good; something worth saving. Isn’t it worth it, perhaps, to stick around and find out what it is?  Otherwise you may never know. 

I still want to know. But if I keep hiding behind this trauma, I’ll never know. So it’s time to process it and move from victim to survivor. 

The only way around in this life is through. 

Never pay the Reaper with love only


Two weeks ago, I was very depressed suicidal.  I had the means, plan, opportunity.  I told him and my mother.  Now, I’m fully aware that my mother has washed her hands of me; there is only one star to the show here and if it’s not her, it’s not a show she’s going to watch.  But I live in her house.  You’d think finding your daughter’s bloated and clammy body would inadvertently make you the star of the show…  Oh no, that role would be played by the grieving 35-year-old widower.  Damn, she misses out again.  Rats.

I don’t think my husband gets it yet.  By “it,” I’m referring to my illness.  We had a long conversation after I was coming out of my suicidal state and I was able to distance myself from the severe depression that was tying me to those thoughts.  He didn’t seem – and still doesn’t – to understand how the mind, how biology, can fight so hard to keep us alive as a species yet the mind can turn on itself.  One thought becomes a fixation that can lead to total destruction of oneself.  Here was this woman he’s known for 25 years – since childhood – and he never saw her pain then (I studied to be an actress – I was good at hiding most things), just a normal kid like him.  Fast forward two decades and all that’s written on my face when the curtains are closed and the doors are locked is pain and fear.

I told him I know where his guns are and despite being a pacifist, I know how to load and fire them.  I just didn’t want to leave a mess for him and my mother – it’s a new carpet.  I didn’t want to get found by the dog and have her eating me – she’d need to be put down.

I know the nearest access to the local river – our property is 1 mile away from a cliff that plunges straight down to it.  I was warned about it as a child and I found the passage there a month ago.

I have access to my roof.  I can tie a noose.  Cut “down the road, not across the street.”  These are the pathetic and desperate methods you teach yourself and you learn along the way when the pain seems too much to handle.  And some days it is; I’m not going to sit here and say “hold on, it’ll get better!” because some days are worse than others.  But guess what?

I’m still here.  Clearly.

Why?  I honestly don’t have a great answer.  I’d love to say it’s 100% because of my husband, but it’s not.  That’s a shitty way of staying motivated – to have my entire life swing in the balance of someone else’s.  How much pressure does that put on him, do you think?  Every drive to work would be a nightmare for him: “Stay away from me – if I get a scratch on me, my wife will kill herself!  She has nothing else to life for!

Fuck no.  I’d say 45% is him.  The rest has to be something else…

A-Ha!  I got it!  I’m a movie buff!  I love comedies, rom-coms, cartoons, psychological thrillers, docu-dramas… anyway – I love a good ending.  I usually Wikipedia that shit because I can’t wait 2 hours to find out what happens; I am not a patient person (I am diagnosed with ADHD as well).  If I die, that’s it.  No Wikipedia.  No Reader’s Digest.  No Cliff’s Notes.  No nothing.  I’ll never know if Mom gets remarried.  If my sister ever finds happiness.  If I ever have kids.  If Savage Garden will ever get back together.  How does this story end?


I remember as a junior in college,  I had a huge breakdown.  To date, it was probably in my top five.  My symptoms were at their peak – I was having terrifying visual and auditory hallucinations, most of which I still do not discuss, but have not had since.  I didn’t sleep for days at a time; I would attempt to rock myself to sleep in the corner of my dorm room, but to no avail.  I had unending amounts of energy, but I felt drained – as though someone sapped my soul out of my body through the bottom of my feet.  My paranoia was at its peak – mostly due to the hallucinations – I slept with a sharpened knife under my mattress.  This scared the shit out of my boyfriend, who after some time, took me to the nearest hospital.

The hospital psychiatrist had been a professor of mine from a freshman course I took on abnormal psychology; I was comforted to see a familiar face in the sterile and intimidating environment.  While the doctor looked over the details of my case, I told him “I got a B- in your class.”  The look he gave me said enough.  There’s no distorting or reading into a look like that.  The lowering of the eyebrow, the turned-up lip, the sudden push back of his head.  He almost screamed, “How did someone as crazy as you pass my class?”

Seeing that woke something in me.  I knew then that my psychiatrist wouldn’t be the last to question my abilities (and he wasn’t), but he shouldn’t have been the first.  Knowing solely about the plasticity of the brain should demonstrate how amazing it truly is.

Amazing and terrifying.