That about sums it all up, really.
For once, I have little to say. I’ll put on my big girl pants when I can get the strength to lift my head off my pillow.
And that should be OK.
It’s been a minute, I know. I’m hanging in, but barely I feel.
I’ve been struggling at work the past few weeks. I feel drained and overwhelmed. I often wear my bite guard to work to keep from grinding my teeth while I’m awake. The job is stressful while at work, but I don’t often take it home which is nice. When I do, it’s usually a personal problem, not a patient’s problem.
For instance, the other day I had someone call me a fat bitch. While normally I wouldn’t pay much mind to what others have to say to me, that stung for some reason. Maybe because they hit that right on the head. Obviously the “fat” thing pissed me off more than anything. And it hurt. It cut really, really deep. Then I had a situation where I felt I did something right – I felt confident about my work and I was ripped apart. Later that shift I assessed a situation and my disposition was not what anyone wanted to hear. I was ripped apart by family members, nurses – and I broke down. I was so frustrated and angry that I started tearing up and couldn’t stop them from falling. It didn’t help that I’d had a UTI and hadn’t been able to pee all shift long.
What I’ve realized since then is I can’t allow people to dump on me. My supervisor said that’s what happened – everyone felt like crap and needed to release their frustration and crap and I happened to be the nearest one there.
I am not a trash can. I am not a dumpster. I am not here for people to dump their crap onto. This was a step further than projection – this was blame, guilt, manipulation, and avoidance.
See, when things don’t follow the natural order of things in my department, the staff gets freaked. It’s admission, assess, and either discharge or transfer. Not to mention cleaning up the ancillary bullshit that no one else “knows” how to do. (They sometimes know, they choose to shove it into our laps). That shift, things were so fucked up it didn’t go that way for several patients and each time I had a gaggle of nurses and 1:1 sitters in my office asking me the same questions:
“What are we doing with them?”
“Bed 58 wants to see you again.”
“So what’s the game plan?”
“I know you’re super super busy, but Bed 58 said they wanted to see you again.”
“What’s the ETA for transfer for Bed 13?”
When the staff gets freaked, I’m usually good at holding my own, but that day I couldn’t keep it together. I had 2 nurses, 1 security guard, and a 1:1 sitter standing there just pressing and pressing. I answered the same question three times. At what point should I stop talking? At what point did you stop listening – were you ever listening?
Today, my best friend announced she’s pregnant. I asked all the questions a mother would ask:
Do you want it? Do you have the means to care for it? Are you getting married? What about school? What about work? How’s your mom taking the news? How’d he take the news?
Then I proceeded to be happy for her.
Is there a reason I couldn’t react the way many people react – excited, elated, over the moon? Nope. Sat there and double-checked that she was going to do everything she needs to.
“Needs to.” Because I’m the one who decides that?! It dawned on me as my car pulled away:
Who the fuck am I?
No, really. Who am I to make sure she’s planned it all out? Who am I to ensure she’s got it all handled? Nobody, that’s who.
So why do I feel so odd right now? Is it because at this time last year, I was pregnant?
What does that have to do with anything?
… Ok folks, it’s time for Alice to come clean.
It wasn’t a miscarriage.
There. I said it. Sort of.
The shame, the constant pain I carry to this day about a decision that changed my husband’s life and mine for the rest of our days.
Did we want it? Yes.
Did we have the means? No.
Can you plan for everything in life? No.
And that was it. I wonder what my life would be like if things were different. Would my mother still hate my husband? Yes, but not for the decision he and I made – she does that well enough without a reason. Would it have been healthy? No. The medications I was taking last year increased the chances that our child would have been deformed or born with serious health complications.
I spoke to my therapist (yes, I have a therapist now) who helped me see a different side to it.
I’ve made a choice. We made a choice. Looking back, as much I would like children, I think I have some more growing up to do before I bring in another life. I don’t want to perpetuate the cycle of needy mothers and overbearing grandmothers. Once we can stand on our own two feet, we can here the pitter-patter of two other ones.
I’m detoxing so hard right now.
My body is so weak it hurts all the time. My head is cloudy, my fuse is short. Really, really short. I will unhinge my jaw and swallow you whole for asking the simplest of questions.
Yeah. This 3-0-1 plan, on paper, looked easy as pie (Apple pie. Dutch Apple. A la mode. With chocolate syrup and whipped creamALICE!!). Ahem. Easy as hell.
But this is hell. Reading labels, weighing food, measuring food, sending my food log to my sponsor every night – this is what I’ve come to. This is the only way. And I know I’ll get well in time, but right now I need to keep working my program.
My biggest hurdle as I face Step 1 is acceptance. Having been in control (or at least believing I was) for so long, it’s a tall order to admit to others, myself, and to G-d that I’m not only powerless, but I lack the ability to control this disease without the support and assistance from my Higher Power. To me, it speaks to my vulnerability as a human being; I was always taught to rise above that. To be fair, I was also taught to clean my plate, to drink orange juice and milk at each meal, and it was OK to finish a whole package of Rice-A-Roni pasta in one sitting. By myself.
Not healthy messages, I’m aware.
So, how does one admit powerlessness and inability to manage their life and all that’s in it due to disease without oozing vulnerability?
I guess when I figure it out, I’ll be ready for Step 2. Maybe.
I got a quarter-sleeve tattoo today; it covers my scars from long ago. The design I had tatted means rebirth, a new beginning. I hope as I move forward I can look at this as a reminder of both where I’ve been and where I’m going.
If you get up super super close, you can still see the scars from my cuts under the tatt. Like life, you can’t erase the past – I had no intention to today. But like life, I wasn’t going to let those scars define me or allow others to define me and who I am today. I struggle everyday with this thing inside me; there is no escape, only (sometimes long bouts of) temporary relief. I’m OK with that, I’ve accepted that this is a lifelong struggle but if I have to live with it, I’m doing this on my terms.
My terms no longer require me to wear these scars as a symbol of pain, shame and struggle; I’ve turned them into a symbol of hope and rebirth from pain.
I will be better than “okay” one day. One day.
Some of my clients, bless them, love to tell me about addiction.
Because I’ve never been addicted to anything before. Ever.
Never thought that if I didn’t have that one last piece, I wouldn’t be happy. I wouldn’t be whole. And no, I don’t feel the guilt drip from my pours as I try to huff and puff up the stairs to my room.
I get territorial over the contents of the kitchen – so much so that my husband has gone out in the middle of the night to replace items sought after by me and this ORANGUTAN on my back.
This has been a struggle for a very long time. I used to insult my mother; yell at her for running to the bathroom on my birthday as she vomited an $85 dinner. On purpose. Two years prior, I was doing the same. Binging, purging, restricting… I apologized to my mother tonight amidst my tears, for being a hypocrite and explaining why: I didn’t want to see her pain, because I could feel it. I lived a similar pain.
I don’t restrict anymore; I don’t purge. But I won’t stop until I’m full, then I’ll take a few more bites. The uncomfortableness doesn’t hit me until it’s too late. It doesn’t help that I have slow motility, which doesn’t allow for my body to remove things as quickly as it should.
But I can’t stop – I want to stop, I need to stop.
But no; I’ve never been addicted to anything. Ever.
I don’t like labels. I’m constantly telling my patients that it’s not about their diagnosis, it’s about their recovery, yet I find myself trying to label myself all the time.
Labels serve a purpose. As humans, we tend to categorize the things around us to help in our understanding of the world and its processes. If I described something as “that living thing that hides in a tree,” you may not know to what I’m referring unless I provide a category – Animal? Plant?
The intended purpose of a diagnosis is to help clinicians identify a grouping of symptoms. Labels get dangerous when people misuse, overuse, or make assumptions regarding a diagnosis.
You see misuse all the time. “I’m so bipolar today!”
Shut the fuck up; no you aren’t. You’re moody and perpetuating the stigma of mental illness. Honestly if one could be bipolar for only 24 hours…
Overuse is just as bad. “I have bipolar manic depression.”
…No you don’t. Manic depression, as a classification, no longer exists. The correct term is “bipolar disorder.” The danger of over-using these terms is the stigma that follows along with it. Why are we over diagnosing ourselves? Isn’t being on the multi-axial system ENOUGH?! /rantoff
The reason for all of this is a recent quest I went on. You see, I’ve been studying the new DSM-5 (I’m a tad nerdy) and stumbled across something called “excoriation disorder.” Now, under DSM-IV-TR, excoriation seems to be a symptom of OCD: dermatillomania.
Why is any of this important? Because I’ve been doing this for years and didn’t know it was a fucking disorder. I didn’t think it was a problem.
Granted, my mother thought it was disgusting that I’d “picked at my nails” so much that I’d permanently damaged my nail beds, causing my nails to grow short, brittle, and very misshapen. I just thought it was a bad habit to pull my cuticles until they bleed (and sometimes after they do). I thought it was just anxiety for me to take sharp objects (safety pins, push pins) and use them to pull the nail away from the nail bed.
It’s just something I’ve done for a while. It just got worse when I started working full time.
So I spoke to my psychiatrist about my symptoms; I tried not diagnosing myself, but I know me and I know the DSM. My doctor gave me some meds for impulse control/OCD.
I painted my nails tonight; maybe if I don’t see the beds, I won’t pick at them so much.
Sometimes it’s nice to put a name to the bully that’s been shoving your face in the dirt for 20 years. Knowing your bully’s name is only a part of it – you need to know how to fight them; that comes through education, support, and inner strength.