My Big Day Out 12-17-2013

Out to the big city today 🙂  It’s not really that big but it does have a university, movie theaters, Target, Best Buy and COSTCO.  It’s also home to my psychiatrist and therapist’s office (they’re right across the hall from each other) and the psychiatric hospital I go to every Wednesday for the NAMI peer support group.  But, today isn’t Wednesday, I had a visit with my therapist and then Dad and I went to Books-A-Million and browsed through the magazines as well as the “** for Dummies” books.  I can only say that there must be a lot of dummies out there.  Those books covered subjects from “Sex for Dummies” to “Freemasons for Dummies”.  We went to COSTCO where we managed to spend less that $100 which is pretty good since it’s only a week before Christmas.  We were away from the house for about 6 hours.  Oh, I almost forgot, while we were out I lost a cap from one of my teeth.  That means there is a dental visit in my near future and I have to say, I’m not really looking forward to that.  Not to mention that I probably can’t afford it.  Anyhow, we arrived back home to find that the power had been out while we were gone and that the internet connection was down.  After about 30 minutes troubleshooting I determined that the router wasn’t working, luckily I had the old router and when I swapped it out, we were up and running in a matter of minutes.  Now I get to spend some time playing with the malfunctioning router to see if I can get it up and running again.  I am looking forward to that.  That’s the kind of thing I used to do in my previous life…my pre-psychotic episode life.  Only the routers were much bigger and more sophisticated, along with the switches and blade servers and…. well you get the point.  I’m just glad that I could get the house back up and running in a short period of time.  It was a good boost for me.  Now I’m off to read all the posts from the blogs I follow do the rest of the various blog related stuff I usually get done before 8 o’clock at night, now that it is quarter to eleven (or so).

I Am In Remission

Some time over the past two weeks, a long time friend commented on one of my posts.  I had said that I was level and have been for some. She said that she was glad that I was in remission.  Remission…  It wasn’t until this evening as I was driving  home that I really thought about this.  Is it possible for BPD to be in remission?  Now that I have been diagnosed, I know that the diagnosis is right for me.  But before that, my treatments were hit and miss.  It wasn’t until half way through ECT that I really started to see the light.  There have been a few stumbles both up and down but it feels like my psychiatrist and I have found a good combination of medications.  I haven’t had an extended bout of mania or depression for at least six months.  If that is remission then I guess I’m in it.

Here’s where I question that.  Most of the BPD blogs I follow talk about it being very unpredictable.  They say it can rear its ugly head at any point in time, whether it is well controlled or not.  Since well controlled is where I am right now, how likely am I to relapse?  More importantly, how much faith can I put on being in remission? Can I relax?  I would go on with that train of thought but I know what all the answers would be… No.  I have to remain vigilant.  I have to keep taking my medication and keep seeing my docs and therapist as scheduled.  I have to keep doing the things, like writing on this blog, that keep me level.

Largely used in the Cancer community, remission is defined as: the state of absence of disease activity in patients known to have a chronic illness that cannot be cured. Since BPD is chronic illness that has no known cure, I suppose the use of that term is appropriate for us in the BPD community as well.  But is it right for me?

I don’t want to take anything away from those out there that are battling cancer, who have been in remission and are now fighting again, or are in remission and have been there for a while.  I, myself, am a cancer survivor.  My battle had lasted 3 months when I was pronounced cancer free.  I guess you could say that I am in remission and have been for 10 years.  I guess it all depends upon the type of cancer it is/was and what the prognosis is/was.  As for me, I have a full body scan every year and every clear scan is another year in remission.

Since I am already in remission (have I said that word enough?) I guess it is OK to add another one to the pot.  As long as I understand there are actions I must take in both instances to keep myself there.  As well as certain things I have to look out for and talk to my doctors about in both circumstances.

Hi, I’m Gavin and I am in Remission.

The Point

I’m very sorry if some of this is a rehash of previous posts.  Everything just piled up on me this afternoon and this is what came pouring out.

What was the point?  What was the point of all that I have done for the past four years.  What was the point of seeing all those different doctors?  What was the point of seeing all those different therapists?  What was the point of seeing all those Physician’s Assistants and Nurses?  What was the point of having Intensive Cognitive Behavior Therapy?  What was the point in having ECT Treatments for two and a half years?  Why did I have to endure all the medication changes? Why did I have to move four times?  Am I any better off now than I was four years ago?

That last question is a very complicated one.  The answer is going to be equally complicated, if not more so.

The basic answer is I don’t know.

I’m a different person than I was four years ago.  I have a better understanding about what is going on in my life.  I have a better understanding about what is going on with my body and mind, including my mental health.  I am always learning something new.

With that in mind the answer is yes.

Four years ago I was an established, successful man.  I had a good career.  I was thought well of in my field.  I had just gotten a huge promotion.  I had many friends.  Now I have none of that.  I live with my parents, I live off of Social Security Disability.  I do have a few friends, but not as many as I used to.

Given that side of the coin the answer is no.

Changing doctors and therapists was necessary to find the right ones who would give me the care that I needed.  Intensive Cognitive Behavior Therapy worked a little but in the end was very helpful in that it was where I learned about ECT.  I believe that ECT is what enabled me to get to where I am now.  The moving around (which also required changing doctors) was due to the fact that my parents were taking care of me and they’re not rich, nor would I ask them to completely support me.  When my corporate disability ran out in San Diego, we moved to my aunt’s house is Elk Grove, CA.  We stayed with her until my Social Security Disability kicked in.  Then we moved to an apartment in Sacramento, CA, which is about 25 miles North of Elk Grove.  Most of the rest of my family lives in the Elk Grove-Sacramento area and it was good to spend time with all of them.  The move North from San Diego included a change in ECT Doctor and facility.  I was well taken care of.  When the ECT Treatments got to the point that they were far enough apart.  I moved to and my parents moved back to their home in North Carolina.  I have been here almost a year and a half.

The moves, the medication changes and the doctor and therapist changes all have good reasons.  And while there was some consternation and actual physical pain, I have had positive results so far.   ECT has made the biggest difference to my life.  While I hope I never have to have it again.  I would get the treatment in a instant if it would be beneficial.

So the answer as to whether I am better off now, than I was four years ago is absolutely YES.

Four to five years ago, while things looked like they were great for me, the monster that took me out was growing.  The success was a mirage that the monster was eating.  The bigger the success the bigger the monster was.  It was only a matter of time before it broke me.  When it did, it was like a toxic bomb had gone off.  No one wanted to be around me.  Thankfully, two co-workers called my psychiatrist (that’s a story for another day), called my parents and convinced me then took to me to the hospital.  One even retrieved my parents from the airport.  If it wasn’t for those two I don’t know where I might have ended up.  I would thank them if I could but I don’t know where they are.

My parents, on the other hand, dropped everything they were doing and rushed to San Diego.  If it wasn’t for them doing that and then making decisions about my care in the beginning I probably would have ended up in the San Diego mental health care system.  Their help and consult has helped me get back on my feet.  I’ve come a long way in the last four years and there is none of it that would have been possible without them.

If it looks like a duck…

Rubber_DuckyIt was a couple of months after I had my psychotic break and I was seeing the therapist that shared office space with my psych-doc. I’ll call him Dr. D. After what I had been through I should have been spending a lot of time with a therapist, only I wasn’t. It wasn’t until I started making noises about going back to work that I started seeing Dr. D. The company I worked for required that I get checked out by a “Company Doctor” and get his/her clearance before returning to the job. This doc wanted information from a psych-doc and a therapist. So, I set up a meeting with Dr. D. and after a few sessions I had determined that Dr. D. was a quack.

He seemed to be very adept at muttering differing levels of psychobabble:

“Your co-dependent relationship with your co-workers has provided a delusion of family. When the family broke up the denial of the of the delusion caused you to internalize the ensuing chaos.”

“You have clearly been living a dysfunctional life. The absence of a meaningful relationship caused by your malignant narcissism, has made it impossible for you to connect with anyone at any level. That prolonged detachment is what caused your psychoses.”

“Pull up your bootstraps and get yourself back out there!”

“You don’t smell like you have psychoses”

Seriously? Yes, seriously! You can’t make this shit up!

The one about the bootstraps, was the last straw (though I should have been done with him sooner). It took a little while but I found a great psych-doc and therapist. I stayed with them until I left San Diego.

Going Sideways

“Going Sideways” is the term one of my therapists and I use to describe slipping into an undesirable state.  “Don’t hesitate to call me if things start going sideways.” Dr. B has had a very powerful effect on me and even though I don’t seem him any more I notice his influence on me on a regular basis.  He’s in California and I’m in North Carolina and while the distance is great it seems as though we’re still right there together.  I’ve contacted him several times since I moved from California; and he was quick to change his schedule around to accommodate a phone session, at no cost to me.  Dr. B has a calming/soothing manner.  He is very understanding and incredibly easy to relate to.  He also has a very dry sense of humor.  There may be something funny in a given comment but there is also some wisdom to be imparted.   He didn’t hesitate to call me crazy, insane, or out of my mind only the way he says it would take all the sting out of those labels.  Through him I learned to understand that they ARE just labels.  I learned that depression, anxiety, psychosis, mania, or whatever, is something that happens TO me.  I am not those things.  I am not Bipolar.  I have Bipolar.  I might sound like semantics to a lot of people but to me it is the tipping point in battling my disease.  It has been some time since I’ve talked to Dr. B.  Maybe I’ll call him on Monday and just leave a message letting him know that things are OK.