My Apologies

I wrote a post about a night in my life recently where I made a decision that could’ve had dire consequences. I took that post down. The responses in the comments were very emotional. From fear based to downright anger with many passionate requests for me to seek some additional help, counseling, resources, etcetera.

I handled the information I delivered in that post very wrong.

I had hoped to relay in my post that even though we have good things going on in life; friends and family that love us, depression can and will sneak in and make you do things that no one would expect you to do. Depression doesn’t make sense! It doesn’t “fit.” It is a senseless disease that I hate admitting I have.

This is clinical depression.

This is a diagnosis that brings me to my knees at times. There is nothing to be depressed about, so why am I depressed? It is all in my head, literally. Due to a closed head injury, I now lack the necessary serotonin in my brain to achieve an overall sense of well-being. Depression, for me, feels like a very selfish disease.

How am I suppose to tell someone who they, themselves, have their own difficulties that I am feeling depressed? How do you walk up to a homeless person and complain you wish you had more storage in your house??? How do you complain when others have many more difficulties than you do? You don’t.

What seems irrational becomes rational. Things that I believe I would never do sometimes seems like the only thing to do. I have clinical depression. I must take care to relay my feelings when I am not feeling safe. I admit I failed to reach out. Depression embarrasses me. Depression makes me feel weak. Depression makes me feel like a self-centered, self-absorbed child.

The reality is I have clinical depression, it is a disease I did not ask for but I must deal with.

I do my best to fight, but the simplest things can become overwhelming. I get so tired, I get mixed up, and I got careless… I made a very bad decision.

I don’t need to be chastised. I beat myself up on a regular basis. I know how I should handle this disease, but I make mistakes.

When you are dealing with a person who has an illness, the most powerful thing you can ask is “How can I help?” Those are significantly powerful words. Even if the person doesn’t know, it opens the door for further communication.

“How can I help?”

 

Screen Shot 2018-02-25 at 12.48.43 PM~Kim

I Almost Lost.

As I sit here, this morning, I need to write about something that makes me feel weak. This results in a feeling of embarrassment and shame. But neither of these feelings are mine to own. What I just went through is a fact of depression, not the exception. While this is still fresh in my mind, I will share it with you. I hope, if you are familiar with these episodes, it may help to know others’ fight to survive them, too.

I have just gone through a significant depression flare. After dealing with depression for over 20 years, (co-existing with my chronic disease) these episodes of deep, dark depression are few and far between, but they happen. They are terrifying.

It started with fatigue, I could not get enough sleep. My neck hurt making it difficult to hold up my head. My lower back screamed in pain no matter sitting, walking, or lying down. But, I-had-to-sleep. My dreams were a black void of nothingness. I teetered on the verge of reality from a bottomless pit of unidentified sorrow only to wake in incredible pain. I felt awareness leave me then return, each time pain attacked my first waking moment. My only conscious thought, “I do not want to be here…”

Yesterday, I reached the deepest part of the vortex. I felt as if an actual blade had pierced my chest, leaving a gaping hole, feeling immeasurable physical trauma. My pain was almost palpable. Growing insidiously with each waking moment, every breath. (“I do not want to be here…”) I was stricken with grief! I felt hot tears release from my eyes, losing the fight for my sanity.

Unconscious…

Conscious…

Unconscious…

My husband never left my side.

Today I crept carefully out of bed, as a doe struggling to stand for the first time. The dull ache of where the blade pierced my chest is a reminder. I know nothing could have been done to prevent that emotional nightmare. While in it, I was not safe,  but I had not the means nor the fight to… “end it.” And today I will recover, slowly, the time in the black vortex still incredibly vivid in my mind. I will fight to remain despite it, I almost lost, but did not.

“I want to be here.”

image-14~Kim

Let’s Talk Smash Books!

What is a Smash Book? It is merely a scrapbook that you fill up with all the things that are in that box, under your bed, filled with notes, photos, and cards! The precious things that are important to you.

The beauty of a Smash Book is there are no rules! I am not a ‘gifted’ scrapbooker! I have the attention span of a mouse! So, all I did was cut and paste and smash everything I had onto the pages in this book. And I tied a bright, happy polka-dotted ribbon around it to keep it closed!!! Smash it in there! No rules.

The purpose of my Smash Book was explicitly for use in my fibro toolbox. Things that brighten my mood and remind me who I am when I reach the lowest depth of a pain flare or a depression flare are in this book to encourage me to just hold on! I will get through this flare, and I will return to these things that make me happy.

I will list the items that you may find helpful to make your very own Smash Book. I  purchased all of my supplies from Amazon as I find them to be ‘cost-friendly’ with many alternatives! Here are the items I chose. Go to Amazon, Wal-Mart, or a store of your liking and select items you like! Make up your very own Smash Book.

What will your Smash Book look like?

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A scrapbook, colored papers, tape, glue, stickers… you are all set!

Smash!!!

~Kim

Fibro Toolbox

 

I Just Might Break

Today I am beginning this post with the hope of answering my own question. I believe I am struggling with coping. I don’t know if it is the heat? The barometer? My medication? Or is it the overwhelming feeling of dread waiting for my body to flare once again. It is basically a fact with fibromyalgia. I know to expect it. I have put together a fibromyalgia toolkit with the items I need to combat a flare. But. I am questioning will this be the last flare I can handle?

I’m tired of feeling almost normal for days then being knocked down by a flare. I’m tired of feeling the increased pain followed by painsomnia. Yes, painsomnia is real. The pain is so excruciating that you can not sleep. All you want when you are in pain is to sleep and find some peace in that slumber. When painsomnia hits, you will not be sleeping. Your flare symptoms will increase even more and will remain with you a few extra days. Why? Sleep heals us, no sleep exacerbates the pain.

I think my body will not give up because it has been beaten down by worse things in this world. I am wondering if mentally I just might break? Fibromyalgia is the gift that keeps on giving. The cruelest part of fibromyalgia is that it is a trickster. You fight through the first few years of this disease in constant high levels of pain, basically flaring non-stop, but you can sleep. In fact, that is about all you can do until your body realizes this is no virus you are fighting but a lifelong central nervous system disorder. Then you get a chance at a few, low-pain, ‘normal’ days.

Mentally, this disease works you over. It makes you think before every action and react to every situation. If I do ‘A,’ then ‘B’ will happen, probably. If I do ‘A’ and ‘B’ doesn’t happen, I may try to do ‘A’ again. This time ‘A’ causes ‘B,’ and you flare without really understanding why it didn’t cause that reaction before. This disease toys with you as a cat toys with a mouse. Soon, if you aren’t careful, you begin to play dead all the time in an attempt to escape the pain.  (It works for the mouse at times.)

Try to imagine the worst pain you’ve ever felt. You are given pain relievers to combat the painful incident. Then it stops… you are active again, feeling good, going to social events then the pain comes back. Now, imagine this horrific pain happens to you every month. Now times that by three ‘episodes of pain’ in one month. Each flare lasting anywhere from 1 to 3 days, up to a week or more. How many good days will you have in one month? (None of them will be pain-free, you lost that privilege once you were diagnosed with fibromyalgia.) A few good days, you may even have many more good days than bad. But that flare is always coming!

I consider myself pretty resourceful and very resilient. I have had fibromyalgia for over 20 years. I prepare and plan my strategy going into and coming out of every flare. But I am feeling less prepared this month. Less confident in my abilities. 

So, when does one break?

Screen Shot 2018-02-25 at 12.48.43 PMKim

 

 

Before I tripped Over a Stone, #9

I am working as a Psychiatric Technician on an adolescent crisis unit.

Previous posts on this subject are as follows:

It was on the 5th day After “N” was released I was reporting for my regular shift. The unit director called me into the office and told me, “N” had committed suicide. She told me how he had done it and where. There was no note. Would I like the day off? What. What? What? No, I didn’t want the day off, and I would be fine, I excused myself.

I went to the staff meeting, I was given my patients and was not assigned any intakes, nor assigned to a response team. I just needed to make it through the shift. My co-workers knew that was my goal too. I didn’t want to think about “N.” Yet, I saw him on the unit everywhere I looked…

I made time to speak with “A’s” psychiatrist. Her boyfriend had been calling me threatening me with beatings, rape, blowing up my car ever since I had her put in the time-out room. I asked her psychiatrist if I should take these calls seriously? The psychiatrist said calmly, oh, “A”? She will definitely kill someone someday. He said he would take some precautions. I asked if there was anything he could do. He just brushed me off and reminded me I chose this line of work.

(F**k you very much!)

The patients on the unit had heard of “N’s” passing. There was a definite division happening on the unit; the angry, the grief-struck and the destroyers…

“Dr. Red Crisis Unit. Dr. Red, Crisis Unit immediately.”

We had three restraints that day. I had been down for dinner and heard the code, for the third time and took off running for my unit. “Kim, this one’s yours!” It was one of mine that was going off, I assembled a 6 point restraint team, and I walked in to begin. I looked at my patient and asked him to sit on his bed and show me that he was calm, or we would be taking him to the time-out room. He wouldn’t comply. I looked back at the door of his room where my team was waiting, they looked like they were a mile away! I was in trouble. I broke protocol and called out to Rick who was my point man on the restraint to take over. I started walking for the door, it felt like it took me an hour to get to the door frame. Rick stepped in and lead the restraint.

I went to the nurse’s office, put my jewelry back on, took my purse out of the locker and said tell the director I won’t be in tomorrow either… I walked off the unit.

I would end up taking three days off. I had to deal with those death threats. The police were not that helpful. One savvy telephone operator taught me a few tricks to make the caller believe he was being recorded by a security agency.  I let my anger loose on him a few times, especially when he would say creepy things like, “I like the red sweater you wore today.”  I knew I wasn’t supposed to engage with him but I would. I would tell him, “I am not in the mood to be played, do something or get the hell off my phone!” (The phone calls lasted for about two weeks then stopped abruptly.) But. I kept having nightmares that “N’s” parents were at my apartment telling me I didn’t do my job and “N’s” death was my fault.

“N” was the very first patient I ever knew personally that actually committed suicide, but he wouldn’t be the last… I remember them all. Devastating is the only word I can think of.

I called into scheduling on the fourth day and asked to float to 6-bed for a week. “WHAT?” The staff scheduler couldn’t believe it.

  • “Why on earth do you want to work 6-bed? Not a whole week Kim.”
  • “Just give me three shifts Rhonda, I want 6-bed, then I’ll go back to crisis.”

The unit we referred to as 6-bed, was feared by all staff, (if you had a brain). The team stayed pretty much on the other side of a reinforced glass window. When you went into the unit, you had to wear a pager, and if that pager alarm was pressed, you had back up right away. I needed to test my skills. I needed to see if I was still sharp or if I missed something with “N.” Was it my fault? I had to find out.

(Continued, Before I Tripped, #10)

img_0156~Kim

 

Mind Field Monday

 

Keep on fighting!

Life is pain. Life’s not fair.

Don’t give up on me!

IMG_0299~Kim

Before I Tripped Over a Stone, Fridays #7

(We are continuing from last weeks entry Before I Tripped Over a Stone, Fridays 6.)

I have taken a position as a Psychiatric Technician (psych tech) and was just removed from completing my first admission on the unit. I have been told to wait in the Unit Director’s office. As I’m sitting there, she comes in, looking furious, and says this will be recorded.  She puts the device on the table and hits record.

“Did you proceed with the admission process for “L”?” 

“Yes.” 

“Did you attempt to strike her father?”

“No.” (The charge nurse had told me what to say to the director’s questions.)

“Did you attempt to crawl over the admissions desk to inflict physical harm on this man?”

“Nope.”

“Did the unit charge nurse escort you from the room?”

“Yes.” 

“Why?”

“I wasn’t feeling well, I needed a bathroom break and then she told me she’d finish the admission.”

“That ends the session with Kim ‘——–‘, Psychiatric Technician for the Adolescent Crisis Unit on September of ‘——‘. I find no further reason to pursue this claim as the unit charge nurse corroborates her story.”

She clicked off the recorder and said someone should’ve put that man in his grave 20 years ago. “You have a verbal warning. Don’t ever do that again.”

“Never again.” (And I made sure it never happened again.)

Just then, the operator announced, “Dr. Red on ALTU (Adolescent Long Term Unit).” Shoot I don’t know where that is! “Dr. Red to ALTU immediately.” I see another psych tech from my unit hauling ass, and I know he was assigned to respond too… I take off on a full run after him, pulling off my earrings, necklace, and rings, shoving it all into my pant’s pockets.

We get to the unit, and we are quickly told what was going on. One male, 14 years of age, slit his wrists and barricaded himself in his room. He has been throwing his bedroom furniture at any staff who tries to enter his room… They have one psych tech severely injured, she was removed from the unit. The other kids are getting agitated, and we may have two more possibly aggressive patients that may need intervention. The patients have been sent to their rooms, but I see two psych techs standing outside of two doors, I figure that’d be the room for the patients that were ‘in need of possible further intervention.’

We now get our orders from the psych tech who was assigned to this patient… we will be going through a bathroom door with a mattress to keep us safe and gently tackle him. The psych tech hands out the positions for the 6 point restraint. I am asked to clear the furniture from the front door of his room so they can carry him out through that door to the time-out room.

We had about fifteen seconds of surprise on our side as we came through that bathroom door. That door had been locked because it is on the female side, the patient used the bathroom for males on the other side of the room. He never expected us… and gave up without too much of a fight. I had the broken dresser drawers removed, and the bed frame pushed back, the path was clear. He was taken to the time-out room, the unit psych nurse attended to his wrists while we removed his shoelaces and belt. We all backed out as the lead tech instructed, and the door was closed. This patient would be put on a suicide watch, and a psych tech would remain outside the door making a note of his behavior every 15 minutes.

Restraint completed, patient unharmed, safe and secure. All staff involved in 6 point restraint procedure, unharmed. Procedure sheet signed and dated, we return to our respective units.

I had only been at work for 2 hours… the rest of the day was pretty quiet thankfully… I got all finished up with “L,” getting her settled. I received a few low fives from my co-workers… I thought well, that was a terrible way to start my shift but they all seemed to approve of me. It has got to get easier. Nope… this was what a quiet day on the crisis unit looked like.

I have some very memorable patients for you yet to meet and a few outstanding psych techs that I had the honor of working with. Amazing psych techs. Incredible kids. Incredulous stories, and a tragedy that knocked the wind out of me for days.

(To be continued.)

img_0156~Kim

Before I Tripped Over a Stone, Fridays #8

Recovering…

I have been battling the last week but am recovering now. My husband only left my side to work. He made sure I never went without, that my cell phone was near so I could call him, and he sat in bed with me when he was home. I am so behind on reading my blogging community’s posts, apologies. Please bear with me while I continue to heal from this bought of costochondritis.

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IMG_0204~Kim

P.S. Thank you, my love, for sitting in the light AND the dark with me.

 

It Matters to Him

My husband was a bit more concerned about this last little patch of depression I went through… he can’t understand why I would ever doubt his love for me. He does know that depression is sneaky and it lies and that it is a disease that affects rational thinking. He knows it has to do with lack of dopamine and serotonin in my brain. He knows when my iron levels are low, I may become depressed as well. He knows.

IMG_0174    He wants to fix it.

Me: “You can’t just fix this.”

Jeff: “Well I am a fixer, and that is what I want to do, so this is very difficult for me. Are you really going to be OK?”

“Physically, I feel fine. So yes, I’ll be OK.”

“Can I bring you anything?”

(Here is where I said something that I shouldn’t have, I attempted a joke about a gun and said something about brains. This was not funny nor should I have ever thought about this type of joking during a depression flare.)

“I don’t think that is funny at all. You know, we’ve gone through too much for me to lose you now. I don’t understand these guys who don’t help their women. I don’t understand why they can’t figure out how to be men? Wash a dish? Pick up a vacuum? Clean the house? What if they were the ones in a car accident? Huh? What would they expect from their wives?”

(He is frustrated and winding up … and I see that I have caused this! I feel horrible!)

“You know suck it up! Take on some responsibility! Learn something! Be a man for God’s sake! But you know what? We’ve been told by women that we are not needed for so many years! Women can do it all by themselves. So what good has that done? Men come home from work and sit on their asses and think that’s OK! It’s not OK!” 

“Well, I need you, whether I’m sick or not, I need my husband.”

“Like I need you. You and I have many things left to accomplish together, you and I are not done yet … I have to go to work now, will you be OK?”

“I will be, I am. Don’t worry, I’ll be here when you get back.”

“Promise?”

“Promise.”

Then I received a text from my husband about ten minutes after he left the house.

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So I went to Youtube and pulled up the video…

“I ain’t strong enough to give you up…”

It is my responsibility to give my husband peace of mind that I will get through a flare, be it mental, physical, or both. It matters to him! It matters that I am safe and taking care of myself and that I will be alright even when he is at work. I will be a better steward of my emotional and physical flares and plan accordingly so not to worry him. This matters to me; his emotional well-being. I have been careless at times. No more.

Screen Shot 2018-02-25 at 12.48.43 PM~Kim

 

 

Did You Know About Depression Flares?

Depression. It is said the third week in January is the worst for depression. I believe it. Also, I think once you have depression, a debilitating depressed mood can move in on you at any time of the year. Sneaky little mind trap just waiting to pounce and pull you into blackness.

What does an increase in a depressive mood feel like?

Fatigue! Fatigue is an excellent indicator of an increased depressive mood as is lower back pain! Did anyone else know this? (I always have lower back pain when I am feeling depressed, I never thought it had anything to actually do with depression.) I just read an article on The Mighty where the author talked about back pain and/or neck pain accompanying an increased ‘flare’ of depression. The whole idea of a ‘depression flare’ struck me as well. A depression flare. Well! I know how to deal with flares!

If we experience flares from chronic pain conditions, why would we expect not to suffer depression flares? This makes so much sense to me! I have really been struggling for the last few days with an increase in my depression. Putting this into a flare mindset has helped me greatly!

A flare is an increase in symptoms that is temporary. The comfort in knowing that you are experiencing a flare is that you KNOW it will pass. You realize what is happening and you know if you can just endure it, it will subside. Do what you would do for a flare and just get through the depression flare! Just get through it… endure it and remind yourself this is temporary. 

Now, as with chronic pain flares, if a depression flare gets too bad, you need to go to the hospital to get help with getting through the very real emotional trauma and physical pain a flare can cause. If you can handle it on your own, safely, then get through it the best way you know how. Have your ‘toolbox’ ready. A toolbox is a few items set aside that will help you pass the time when you are unable to sleep. Sleep is our most significant healer, but there are times when we cannot sleep. We must occupy our time as best we can until we get through this temporary increase in a very uncomfortable state of mind and pain.

Be safe, know your limits, and remember you are very likely thinking irrationally during a depression flare. If at any time you feel unsafe, call 911 and get help. There is no shame! Depression is a very real, and severe invisible illness.

Did You Know About Depression Flares via I Tripped Over a Stone.

img_0487~Kim

And on the 8th day, I slept.

At 0930 I received an automatic voice message this morning;

“Thank you for filling your prescriptions with our pharmacy, we want you to know the prescription items you ordered have shipped.”

Today is the 8th day I have been without my medications. I had a few rescue medications that I was able to use, but for the last two days, I’ve had nothing so I improvised. I used some over the counter medications for the sole purpose of knocking myself out. The body pain was absolutely like stepping out of a boxing ring. There was the sharp pain with every movement, nagging pain while at rest, agitating restless legs, and deep depression. Finally, I broke for about two hours yesterday. I could not stop crying. Then I threw up, again and again!

My husband arrived home during my massive meltdown and crushed up some ice chips for me to suck on. He had this terrified look on his face and I felt awful. I felt guilty for putting him back in this headspace of fear. What had I done? Why hadn’t I planned better? It had been 56 hours of torment, remembering why I was indeed on medications and what my life would be like without any…

At 1330 today the doorbell rang and a man called out, “I need your signature!”

It was my medication! All of it! Every single pill I needed… I took my morning dose immediately and a pain pill, just one. Then two hours later I took one anti-anxiety pill and I laid in my bed. I slept. I slept for four hours and I woke with minimal pain. I ate a decent meal and took my evening dose and headed for a hot shower.

I made it! I made it! I made it!!!

Changing insurance plans should not have to entail such personal devastating disruption but it did. I went through it and am on the other side. Grateful that I am still a fighter and reminded what an amazing doctor I have as we journeyed through the medication jungle to find me the right kind of medication. In a sad way, this was a good reminder why I take the medication that I do and why I am receiving the disability that I do. (Even after 20 years I still question my disease, the severity of it.)

I have found what I need to take to lead my best life with this disease, now it is up to me to follow through. I’m coming back, slowly but stronger.

IMG_0075~Kim

The Disease of Christmas Past, Present, and Future.

You have a disease, it used to be only an illness. There will not be a cure in your foreseeable future. You were so sure in the beginning this disease was just a temporary illness. You are on disability, you never wanted it. You ended up needing the money disability provides, but it is nowhere near enough to live on. You have some decisions to make but first, let’s revisit the past…

matthew-brodeur-215031

The first year of your illness, you were diagnosed with an ‘acute pain’ diagnosis. You were told to take a few weeks off work, go to a physical therapist, maybe see a massage therapist or a chiropractor too. After a bit of time, you were encouraged to seek out some mental health counseling. During this time you were given medication for pain. It seemed to work until you were tapered off, the pain came back with a vengeance. Why couldn’t you figure this out? How many people did you know who had the same physical or emotional trauma happen to them and they ‘bounced’ back? You were getting back to work and then having to take sick leave more and more because the pain was so excruciating. You are completely exhausted. Years two and three passed … all you can remember is visiting doctors, specialists, therapists, and sleeping and sleeping, never getting enough sleep! You maybe got a few months of work in here and there, you knew getting fired was coming.

Then the next 4 or 5 years passed … where did they go? Maybe more years went by while you still fought to get better even though the ultimate diagnosis of Fibromyalgia Syndrome was signed, sealed and presented to you in a medical file. This stated your acute pain was chronic, and you indeed were given a disease diagnosis. This ‘thing’ you had was not a mystery even though you were still confused by the ferocity of it. You were also informed during these years that you probably had at least one but more likely a few dozen coexisting conditions that can accompany this syndrome.

Let’s move to the present. You have learned a few coping skills. You realize you must stick to the medications that work for your conditions as well as the specific treatments you have found to alleviate as much of the pain as possible. Routines vary, but you know how to handle the changes. You know and experience the fibromyalgia flares that come upon you along with the fibro fog. These are the things you have learned from the years of trial and error you have put in. You have a feeling of some control, some purpose, some idea of the life that is possible for you to lead.

Looking ahead to the future, what will it hold? What are you going to do now that you have created some semblance of normalcy within the limitations of your disease? There are social media outlets, freelance writing jobs, and driving jobs like Uber and/or Lyft. You know this disease is not getting any cheaper, and the cost of living continues to increase. The disability pay is helpful but not enough for the long run. Or is it? You must determine what you will need to do. What can you do to supplement your income? Or can you devise a budget within said disability payment to live comfortably but with frugal intent? Your future is up to you.

Live your best life.

IMG_0201~Kim, I Tripped Over a Stone.