The Life You Save May Be Your Own

DID, knitting, sci-fi, and strong opinions

Unbearable November 30, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — weordmyndum @ 3:48 am
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I need to see a doctor.

I went off birth control in February or March. I’d been on it for around three years for PMDD, but I went off it because it stopped helping.

First, it was just that my periods were irregular. No big deal. That happens when you go off birth control, and it’s just an annoyance.

But then the pain. I’ve never had painful periods–I hardly even had cramps, and when I did, a couple Tylenol took care of it. But it’s been getting worse and worse for the last 4 or 5 months. I’ve been using a stash of flexeril that my PCP gave me for my back months ago. It mostly helped.

And tonight is just unbearable. I’ve taken flexeril AND. Vicodin, and it’s still all I can do to keep from moaning and/or screaming. I’m nauseous and dizzy, and I’m alternating between hot flashes and cold sweats. I might even belong in the ER tonight, but I won’t go.

I won’t go because I can’t deal with anyone poking around at my privates. Because it will trigger panic and flashbacks. Because I’m 99% sure I would switch, and I don’t know if I’d end up with someone who’d scream hysterically, someone who’d kick the doctor in the face, someone who would try to beg her way out of there…no idea. And mentally/emotionally, I feel good. I don’t want to deal with abuse and trauma stuff. The pain will go away in a few days.

I know something is probably wrong. You don’t get pain like this if the plumbing is working right. I hate the pain, and I don’t want to be alone with it. But if I tell anyone on my team, they’ll make me see a doctor. And they should–it’s the right thing to do. But I won’t let them do it. Apparently I’d rather be alone with the pain than be alone with the trauma memories.

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Excuse me, your privilege is showing. November 29, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — weordmyndum @ 1:59 pm
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There’s a rather heated debate about sustainability happening on the listserv for a pagan group I’m a member of.

I want to smack most of them.

The whole discussion reeks of rich privilege. “Anyone can be a healthy vegetarian if they get protein from diverse sources.” “Buying local is what everybody should do.” “Everybody should use natural medicine because it’s better for people and the environment.”

On an idealistic basis, I tend to agree with them. (I do, however, reject the blanket statements about everybody. Logical fallacy much?) But they’re flat-out missing the fact that there are a hell of a lot of people, even in the First World, who can’t afford it.

I’ve been a vegetarian for more than 10 years and know a lot about what works for my body. I also know it’s not fucking cheap. Extracting concentrated proteins from vegetable sources involves a fair bit of processing, and that increases cost to consumers.

I’d love to eat nothing but organic local produce. Sometimes I can afford local produce from the co-op, but usually it’s whatever’s on sale at the neighborhood Stop & Shop. I have to chooses this because otherwise I can’t pay my gas bill or buy food for my dog.

I wish I could try more alternative medical treatments, as my results with mainstream medicine have been mostly disappointing. But we have this while insurance system in the US. A visit to my mainstream primary care provider costs me nothing, and a month worth of meds costs me $5.00. The alternative medicine doctor Windhorse wanted me to see would cost me $450. Considering I live on $473.73 per month, that’s not really feasible.

It’s fine to suggest that these things are, in general, good things to do for yourself and the environment. But when you put the words “everyone should” into those sentences, then you exclude and shame the people who don’t have the resources to do those things.

By all means, let’s talk about the environment and how to improve it. But let’s also talk about privilege and be aware of it so we can check it at the door.

 

Neuropsych Eval

Filed under: Uncategorized — weordmyndum @ 12:34 am
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I am very smart.*

So when I tell people I’m stupider than I used to be, I often feel like they don’t take it as a serious thing. They think I’ve still got so much intelligence left over that what I’ve lost doesn’t impair me.

They’re wrong.

I had my neuropsych eval today. On the basic overview section of the WMS, I scored a low average.

I’ve never been low average in anything academic. I’ve never even been average. I know it violates social conventions to say that about myself, but it’s true.

I suuuuuucked at spatial addition, but that’s not surprising. Math is not my strong suit, and I’ve always been awful at anything spatial. I was surprised with how well I did with the visual (non-spatial) tasks. I thought for a long time that I sucked at visual learning because I didn’t realize spatial intelligence was a separate thing.

I did pretty well on the WAIS. Up until the math section, anyway. I was never into math because I thought I was bad at it. I didn’t have teachers who made it feel important to me or who made me feel competent in it. I made it through 12th grade precal through sheer force of will–about 2/3 of the class dropped it. That was the last math class I took, and that was 2004. I saw trig and logarithms and remembered I had learned how to do them–I just couldn’t remember how. But I’d even forgotten some of the Algebra II stuff.

They didn’t have a reading retention test, so they jury-rigged the comprehension section of the Nelson-Denny Reading Test. I did well on it, but it was a lot harder than it was pre-ECT.

These are just my impressions of how I did; I go back to get the results on December 12. She’ll also have suggestion on brain rehab and school accommodations.

It’s funny–I expected this to make me feel stupid and shitty. Though I know I have some big deficits and want to improve them, I’m not beating myself up and feeling stupid. That’s pretty cool.

*For bonus points, name that sci-fi reference.

 

How am I not myself? November 28, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — weordmyndum @ 8:11 am
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I don’t know why this video is yellow.

I had a long phone conversation with my friend D tonight. D and I have been friends for 7 or 8 years, and he also has DID. He kept insisting that I’m not okay and I need to acknowledge that so I can deal with it.

Is D right? Am I really not okay? Am I really ignoring my own distress, or not registering it? Does being unwilling or unable to do things like calling therapists or getting food stamps mean I’m “not functioning”? Am I telling myself I’m just unwilling to hide from myself the reality that I’m unable? Is my Windhorse team hopelessly inept at dealing with my traumas, missing all the signs and neglecting to offer help? Am I not even myself anymore, but some part, some Denial-Sara?

I don’t know right now, I honestly don’t. (D said I never say “I don’t know” this much.)

Most of the time, I don’t feel distressed; when I do it’s mild. Today I felt happy, watching the snow fall for the first time this season. I enjoy kung fu and my work with the attorney.

But…then why ami starving myself? Not getting food stamps? Hiding it all from my team? Insisting to myself that maybe I just don’t need a therapist anymore?

Then again, aside from the self-starvation, these could be healthy choices. Moving toward independence.

He kept pressing me about what changed, what happened. I kept saying I don’t know, but then it occurred to me that it could be hospital/treatment/therapy issues. I haven’t dealt with the retraumatization at Menninger. Hell, I’ve barely touched on the issues from the state hospital in Iowa. Then the situation for dredged up after the incident with NT. I did start the starvation shortly after that.

But correlation doesn’t equal causation. I’m not depressed. I’m not having flashbacks or nightmares. I’m not losing more time than usual. That doesn’t sound like a PTSD flare triggering my ED to me.

I don’t know. I just don’t know.

What I keep coming back to is, if everything is as bad as D thinks, then why do I feel okay? He says I don’t feel okay; I’m just in a milder depression. I don’t think that’s right. I know what milder depression feels like–that’s what summer and fall were. This, where I am now, this feels okay.

He also objects to me saying if my life goes downhill and there’s not much chance of fixing it, I’ll kill myself while things are still mostly okay so I don’t have to live the downhill tumble. I think this is reasonable. I think it is my right as a person to choose my life and death, and I think owning that right lets me value my life more. D says I wasn’t always like this. I think I always was, I just wasn’t able to articulate it so clearly. But he thinks I’m different and it means I’m somebody else.

I don’t think that’s even possible. I feel like myself, like Sara. If I was someone else, I wouldn’t still think I was Sara, would I? I’d think I was Kat or Corey or Alison or whoever. I wouldn’t still think I was Sara.

Maybe.

I don’t know.

How am I not myself?

 

Guess I’ll Go Eat Worms

Filed under: Uncategorized — weordmyndum @ 1:41 am
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I co-own/moderate a Yahoo group for people with borderline personality disorder. I’ve been there more than ten years, and for the most part it’s a good bunch of people. But right now there’s one member there who’s making me want to throw things. I’m going to rant here so I don’t go off on her.

She constantly posts in other people’s threads about how bad she feels. Never more than a sentence or two, never enough to really respond to with more than “I’m sorry you’re having a rough time.” On the rare occasion she does start her own thread, she rejects any support other members try to offer her.

Today she wrote a post (hijacking someone else’s thread, of course) about how no one cares about her. It just about sent me into orbit.

Look, I know feeling isolated and uncared for is a common experience for people with mental illnesses. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. And it’s hard to talk about; I understand that too. But there’s a big difference in saying “none of you care about me” and saying “I feel like no one cares about me.”

(“There she goes being all semantic again,” I hear you say. But bear with me.)

“None of you care about me” is an accusation, and it puts the accused in an impossible position. You can’t say, “Look, I’m trying to care, but it’s really hard to do when you keep rejecting everything I offer,” or the instant response will be, ” See, I knew you didn’t care about me!” You’re left with two choices: saying, “You’re right, I just don’t give a damn anymore” or reassuring them that you do care. Both make you the guilty party. It’s a guilt trip, and I choose not to engage with those anymore.

“I feel like nobody cares about me,” on the other hand, leaves room for people. You’re owning it as your feeling, not objective reality, and not anyone’s fault. When I say “I feel like nobody cares,” it’s generally part of an acknowledgement that I know people care–I’m just feeling very alone.

It’s hard to ask for care and support. God knows I get that. But most of us aren’t psychic and don’t know what people want/need from us unless they ask. If you don’t ask for something, then it’s not fair to blame them for not giving it to you!

 

Alienation and Football November 27, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — weordmyndum @ 4:55 am
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My family really doesn’t get me.

I know that’s not exactly news, but it’s really been striking lately.

My grandparents have my phone number now. I’m not thrilled about that, but I had to call my grandmother when her sister died, and I didn’t want to tell her no when she asked for my number. I think she really does love me, in her own way.

When she called me on Thanksgiving, she gave the phone to my grandfather. He proceeded to talk for 15 minutes about Alabama football, how they just needed to beat Auburn (which they would definitely do) and Notre Dame (which they could probably do) to win the national championship. My grandmother left me a voicemail over the weekend to say that Alabama beat Auburn 49-0.

I couldn’t care less about football.

Yeah, I went to Bama, but I didn’t really want to. I was a National Merit scholar who could’ve gone to any college I wanted. I wanted to go to one of the good creative writing schools: Hollis, Randolph Macon, Sewanee, Smith. But my family wanted me to go to Alabama, so I went.

I never graduated, and when I was there, I actively avoided the football culture. In fact, when the Iron Bowl was a home game, my friend Eugene and I bought a bunch of junk food, rented all the Star Trek movies, and didn’t leave the dorm for three days.

I even got in a pissing match with the president of the University over football, at least in part. I wrote an editorial for the school paper criticizing his financial decisions, namely that there weren’t enough professors, academic buildings were literally crumbling, and there was such a shortage of on-campus housing that many students (myself included) were living in broom closets with roommates–all while the new football coach was making $8 million a year. The president responded to this by calling me at 8:00 AM the morning my piece ran, accusing me of lying, and threatening to take my scholarship away. When I realized the administration valued football more than its students, it made me hate football even more.

So why are my grandparents so interested in telling me about football? Part of me wants to believe it’s an attempt to reconnect and find common ground, however misguided. A more cynical part of me thinks this is an attempt to make me conform, to say they don’t care what I care about, these are the family values and I must fall in line. I’m not sure which one is closer to the truth.

I can tell you one thing for sure, though: I’m never going to worship at the altar to Bear Bryant.

 

Not Real: DID v. Depression November 26, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — weordmyndum @ 7:27 pm
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Recently there’s been some talk in my little corner of the blogosphere about people claiming certain mental illnesses are fake. Bourbon wrote a post responding to another blogger who claims that, because her DID was therapist-induced, all DID is iatrogenic. In response, Pride in Madness wrote about her experience of others’ denial of her experience of both DID and depression.

I’ve dealt with people claiming both my DID and my depression are fake. Both suck, but they suck differently.

With DID, deniers generally make a blanket claim that DID doesn’t exist. Generally people making these accusations claim sympathy for the “victims,” those pitiable people duped into thinking they have multiple personalities by therapists who are inept or unscrupulous or both. We need to be rescued by those who know better, who know all about how false we are.

With depression, the deniers I’ve run into haven’t claimed that depression doesn’t exist. Instead, they claim that I have no right/reason to be depressed and that if I’d just whistle a happy tune and pull myself up by my bootstraps, I wouldn’t be depressed anymore. The implication is that depression is something I am willfully creating and continuing.

These seem like two very different attitudes, but the underlying motivations aren’t. In both cases, there’s hostility directed toward people who are suffering.

My theory is that these people can’t admit to themselves that they are in pain. The pain of being human, just under the surface, is so deep and overwhelming and frightening that they deny it. Because they can’t bear to recognize it in themselves, they can’t beat to recognize it in others, either. So they attack us.

I try to have compassion for these people, but a lot of days my flak jacket just isn’t thick enough to risk it. For now, I’ll just try to avoid them.

 

 
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