Saturday, August 30, 2014
It does not take a lot of money to lift me from my sadness. All I need is some time. Having some friends around would be helpful. Things I do to relax and have fun are simple things.
One of the things I especially love to do is go to the library. Whether it is a project, interest or problem the library has resources. I always love to browse the “New Section” books. I enjoy books and sometimes I read a lot.
Another way to relax me is going shopping. I have loved shopping since I was a teen! It is one of my favorite pastimes. I bargain hunt and look for deals. I like going to discount stores, the Goodwill and thrift stores. I also go to high end stores BUT I am always looking for a good sale there! Shopping lifts my spirits when I am blue. I rarely spend a lot of money for goods.
One of my favorite places to go is downtown during the day. There is a nice park with a big fountain. Sometimes I like going to the bars but I do not usually have an alcoholic beverage. My beverage of choice is orange juice. There are cute shops and cafes to visit. I love the Peanut Shop. I always get popcorn from there. Occasionally I feed the squirrels in the park bits of popcorn. There is usually something going on downtown!
Lastly I love to go out to eat! Often I am in the mood for Thai food. I also like Chinese buffets. I prefer to go during the day to keep costs down. I dine out with a friend at least once a week.
These are things I do to make me feel better. It is kind of like my own therapy in a sense. They help chase away the blues and get me away from my depression.
Sunday, August 24, 2014
The past few months have been pretty rough on me. I have had a bad case of hives that lasted for a week. My car broke down on me and I went car less for a while. The worst thing I have had happen to me is heartbreak. This was not something that lasted for a few years. I have known this person for over twenty years. I referred to her as my FL best friend. She was like a sister to me.
Yesterday I woke up around seven am. I check my cell phone and see a text message from a close friend. Her message said to give her a call before I go on Facebook. I give my friend a call. She warns me that there is a nasty public post on my Facebook page. I log on to my Facebook account. What I see is a long letter on my page pretty much about how an ungrateful bitch I am. This was from my FL best friend. I can not fully express how I feel but it is like a mixture of sadness and anger. Tears roll down my cheeks. My hands are shaking. I feel frazzled. A few of my friends defend me but my FL best friend manages to lash out at them.
I manage to shower and get dressed. Clearly I am not thinking straight because I decided to wear jeans while the weather is about one hundred degrees outside. I get to my friends house. She tries to comfort me and tells me things will work out just fine. I remain devastated. We talk about my feelings for a while. I was still in tears. One of my friends warned me that people can leave mean comments on my blog. I never expected something so mean from my FL best friend.
My friend and I try to go on about our days. We are both pretty upset. We decide to go downtown. My friend and I get lunch from a fast food place. We both explore the library since we enjoy reading. We stop at the pet store to see some animals then get a few things from the grocery store. Finally we head back home. We get into a small argument. She thought I was upset with her. It had nothing to do with her. I was still very hurt from the mean letter.
I have a cousin that lives in Utah. We have not seen since each other since I was in kindergarten. However we still stay pretty close. I text her almost every day. She knew what happened to me over Facebook. She asked me if I was okay. I told her not really. What she says next brought tears to my eyes. She texted me to tell her everything that was wrong. She told me that she was there to listen. I was touched by her simple act of kindness. I know that a few people truly care for me but she made me realize it.
The end of my day goes by slowly. I drive home and listen to music. The tears start again. My heart is broken. I feel like I have lost a piece of my soul. Yes I do have family and friends nearby but I feel incredibly alone. I go home to Bear. As always he is patiently waiting for me. I get into my pajamas and into bed. Bear comforts me and the loneliness eases a bit. I do a bit of writing. Then I text a few friends until I fall asleep.
Thursday, August 21, 2014
In my previous blog entries I have talked about some family and friends that have helped me through my struggle. I have met six wonderful friends in Alabama! I would like to take a moment to talk about them and how they have helped me.
Marianne is one of the first friends I made here. We were roommates at a psychiatric hospital. She was very friendly and sociable. We talked often. After we left the hospital we lost touch for a few years. One day I was at Altapointe and Marianne saw me and held both of my hands. We were so happy to be reunited! Ever since then we have been in contact. She is such a generous person. I remember one day I was at her house eating some apple chips. I mentioned that they were tasty and she tried to get me to take home her entire bag of apple chips!
Sean is someone I have known for quite a while. I met Sean while sitting at a gas station with Bear. He was concerned about me and asked if I was alright. We talked for a bit and kept in touch. When I was in the hospital he came to visit me every single day! Sean came to check on me often while I was staying alone in my apartment. He was a great help! He never complained about having to take me grocery shopping and on other errands. I do not know what I would have done without him.
Brandon is another good friend of mine. I met him through one of my friends. He is very blunt and does not always think before he speaks. We used to go out to lunch often or to the park. Whenever I am in a bind Brandon never hesitates to give me a lending hand. If I am upset he finds a way to cheer me up.
Sara is my very best Alabama friend! We have known each other for a few years. However since January we have been getting especially close. She is the first person I would call if I am sad or sick. Sara gives good advice. We are together most of the time.
Zamora is a friend I met through my parents. When I am having issues she invites me over or offers to talk to me. We like to go out to eat and go shopping. Zamora is a beauty expert! Sometimes she does my eyebrows, hair and makeup!
One of my newest friends is Marcy. We met online. She has been living here since last summer. We emailed for a few months before we actually met in real life. Whenever I a am down Marcy suggests we go talk and do something fun. She likes to help me get my mind away from my troubles.
Since living in Alabama these friends are my support system. They are the people I am closest to. Sometimes we just hangout for fun. Also they are there for me when I have a serious problem such as depression. These are the friends I can count on the most. They make my world a little brighter!
Monday, August 18, 2014
I want to talk to you about the medications I take to control my schizophrenia. Some people do not realize how powerful the effects of the medicines are. Schizophrenia is not curable but it certainly is treatable. I have to take medications for the rest of my life.
Back in 2008 when I was first diagnosed I was on a medication that literally made me sleep all day. My life was a blur. I managed to eat a few meals a day and shower but other than that I would be in bed sleeping. One time I had an appointment at Altapointe and I could barely stay awake. I wanted to doze off. The staff member I was talking to told me she wished she could offer me some coffee but she did not have any. I told the doctor about the side effects and they quickly changed my medicines.
The new medicines I was on worked for awhile. Then around 2010 I noticed a scary side effect! It seemed like my throat was closing up. I could not eat or drink anything. I did not go to the hospital. I was afraid I would be put into a group home. The next day I am perfectly fine. I am able to eat and drink again.
Nearly a month had gone by and I was off my medicines. My family did not know this. I kept it to myself. I started feeling happy again. I felt very friendly and wanted to have conversations with everyone I came across! Now remember my personality is very reserved.
Luckily I found out that the pills I was taking came in an injection form. Soon I start taking the monthly injections. I am grateful for them. If I had been off my medicines any longer I would have had a relapse. This injection has two bad side effects. I have gained a lot of weight and I am tired almost all of the time. Before I was on the injections I was a juniors size 3. Now I have been on the injections for a few years and I am up to a size 15. My self esteem has decreased dramatically.
While my injections have two bad side effects the positive outcome is much greater. I get depressed often but I am not suicidal. I laugh and smile often with my friends. My brain disorder is stabilized and I am not delusional. This medication has helped me live a normal productive life!
Saturday, August 16, 2014
I want to take you back to the summer of 2008. I just had my first mental breakdown. This is about my very first time staying at the psychiatric ward. I was naive, young and slightly disoriented. I would assume staying at the psychiatric ward would be scary for most people. However because I was disoriented I had fun the entire time of my stay! Maybe part of the reason that I was happy was because I had been doped up. I met some interesting characters that still remain strongly in my memory. I would like to introduce them to you.
I told the lady I was going to share my room with that I was an angel of God. She simply told me she was the devil. She was not being mean or funny. She was dead serious. I do not know why she called herself the devil. My roommate turned out to be quiet and friendly.
One of the persons I met was God. She was a middle aged blonde. God wore makeup most of the time. She said I was her spiritual child and wanted to take me home to live with her. God told me I was blessed with a lovely body and that I needed to cover it. At that time I was in good shape. I was wearing a cardigan and jeans. It was NOT revealing.
After meeting God I met a woman named Eve. She told me she was the first woman created by God. Eve had a special seat in the day room that she loved sitting in. She openly talked about being abused when she was a child. Eve kind of spooked me out when she told me there were a few dead spirits following me.
Another memorable character was the military guy. He was attractive and a few years younger than me. I developed a baby crush on him and I think he felt the same about me. We usually sat next to each other in the day room. He was good at puzzles. I encouraged him and told him to keep up the good work. I believe he was staying in the ward because he was on a suicide watch.
One guy that scared the hell out of me was not a patient. He was a janitor. I felt that he looked evil. I asked him if he believed in God. He abruptly replied “No!” God (the lady I introduced earlier) and I believed he was planning on blowing up the building.
God and I walk the hallways anxiously worrying. I decided to call the cops. One cop came in to see me. The nurse was very upset with me! He took away my phone privileges for the day. The cop took me to a private room. He told me everything was going to be fine.
Nightly the staff would check on us hourly while we were asleep. In the day room we had puzzles, crayons and the TV. Some days the therapist would come see us and we would have day treatment.
My FL best friend and a close friend visited me. They asked me what I needed and bought me underthings and toiletries.
My dad and step mom came to visit me. I was happy to see them and gave both of them hugs!
The next day my parents take me out of the hospital. I go to their friend's house to pack before I am on my way to Alabama.
Thursday, August 14, 2014
The bible says “You reap what you sow.”
After my breakdown and being diagnosed with schizophrenia I felt like I did not have anything to sow. My dad and older brother had helped me. Friends had been there for me.
Here I was with a brain disorder, my life shattered, dreams gone. I did not know if I would ever be able to live on my own again.
I had to start over! How? While being in mental wards and group homes I was able to make friends easily. I have always been a very caring person.
Many of my friends are from the early days. They are still my friends today. I realized that a small act of kindness could make someone's day. From a simple “Hello” to a “Happy Birthday.” Sometimes a used book, a small gift or a greeting card could lift the spirits of my friends. It does not take a lot of money to make someone smile.
As I gained control over my brain disorder and became more independent I would continue to keep up with my friends. I usually sent them texts, emails, snail mail letters and I would visit my local friends.
I wanted give back to the community. A friend and I decided to volunteer at a nursing home. I had the idea that we would visit and talk to the elderly. We were quickly to learn about dementia, Alzheimer's, and the survivors of strokes. After spending time with these people I realized my problems with schizophrenia were not so enormous.
For fun activities I wanted to color and paint. However that was not our calling. “BINGO!” Yes our calling was bingo. We run the bingo games a few times a week. We always have a good sized crowd. My friend and I take turns calling out the numbers while the other one goes around helping the consumers with their cards.
We dealt with all types of seniors. There is one outgoing gentleman that said something along the lines of “How about a kiss, baby?!” One lady that loves to play bingo refers to me as the pretty foreigner. My bingo players are always glad to see us. If they win they get a piece of chocolate candy. For a while they have fun and are entertained.
My heart goes out to these elderly consumers because they will not get better. I am glad I can give back to these people. I forget my problems for awhile. I know that I am continually getting better with my brain disorder.
Monday, August 11, 2014
Schizophrenia is emotionally taxing. Even with medications, therapy and the support of my family and friends.
Earlier I have talked about my son Bear. He has helped me endure sadness, heartache and loneliness.
Even Bear needs help sometimes. My family owns two dogs, Looney and Lassie. They are both small female dogs. They are my companions too. Along with Garfield and Dopey, my AL best friend's cats. Together with Bear these animals (my friends) help me deal with the symptoms of schizophrenia.
Looney is hyper, with all kinds of energy. Lassie is more calm and collected. I love giving them treats and kisses. Petting and spending time with my dogs makes me feel calmer. They make me feel loved. They always lift my spirits.
My AL best friend's cats provide me some comfort as well. Dopey is a grey female, older cat. She meows a lot and is not always sociable. However she can be sweet at times. Garfield is a big cuddly male orange Tom cat. He likes to sit with me often and loves when I pet him. Soothing is the best word that comes to mind. Sometimes I give them treats when I am over. They meow at me and follow me into the room for their goodies.
I have mentioned before that when dealing with a brain disorder, you do whatever it takes. Pets are an excellent way of dealing with the symptoms of my illness and the side effect of medicines. Bear along with my dogs and cats, help me cope and live a richer life! I am thankful for the role they play in my world!
Saturday, August 9, 2014
Life goes on slowly. The time is late 2011. I take my medications regularly. I still have frequent problems with depression but I am no longer suicidal.
For the first time since 2008 I try dating again. My then boyfriend and I dated for close to a year but it did not work out. I managed to move out of my dad's house for awhile. Dad invites me to move back home with him. I gratefully accept his offer.
During all of this time I have been searching for a job. My therapist recommends that I go to vocational rehab. They help people with disabilities find work. I get assigned a job coach. Once a week my job coach takes me to businesses so I can fill out applications and do interviews.
While looking for work there would be times when I got discouraged but I never gave up! After a year of searching I finally land my dream job! Actually it was not my dream job. It did not pay well and was not always exciting BUT it was a job and it helped me get by. Soon after I got the job my older brother and dad help me purchase a used car!
This was the first job I held since my mental breakdown. I was working at a clothing store. I was the fitting room associate. Like any job there were good days and bad days. I usually enjoyed talking with the customers. Most of my co-workers were friendly.
I worked at the clothing store for a little over a year. I wanted to take a break from working with the public. Recently I accepted a job offer that had a better opportunity!
Since I have schizophrenia finding and keeping a job was very difficult for me! However I take my medicines regularly, go to counseling and have a good support from family and friends. This has helped me find and keep a job much easier! It is difficult for people with my condition to find and keep jobs but it's not impossible!
Friday, August 8, 2014
Even though I have schizophrenia and endure daily hardships, I still find time to reach out to others with kindness.
An acquaintance of mine was nearing an upcoming birthday. She was not a friend, just someone I had known through other people.
I asked her what she was doing for her birthday. She replied “Nothing in particular.” She would be spending her birthday alone! This shocked me! I have always believed that you should something a little special for your birthday regardless of your age.
So I suggested my friend and I treat her to a birthday lunch. She was so touched that I took the time to celebrate her birthday with her without having known her that well.
She had pretty much given up on people and life. She stayed in bed most of the time.
Through a simple act of kindness I had discovered a new best friend! We went out to eat, shopping, and texted constantly!
She took an interest in life again and we became best friends!
Forgetting about my own problems while helping someone else I found a life long friend. I helped someone raise their spirits above the problems they had.
Even though I have schizophrenia I make sure not to be self absorbed in my own problems. I still have time to care about others and lend a helping hand!
Wednesday, August 6, 2014
Since the last time we talked life has gone on. I found my refuge in books. I bury all of my feelings and depression in the books. I spend most of my time in books. That coupled with Bear and my music makes it able for me to get by. I am fine.
I had very few friends in Alabama. It was finally dawning on me that I was not going back to Orlando. This added to my feelings of loss. I would not be seeing my family and friends in Orlando for awhile.
Around 2010 we moved to Theodore Alabama. I loved the Theodore area! The grocery store and library was only a five minute drive. When I could not drive anywhere I could walk to the nearest gas station. I always kept my doctor's appointments and went to therapy sessions. I really thought I was coping.
In February 2011 my FL best friend and Auntie come to visit me for my birthday. We explored the town and had a blast! They were here for about a week. These were my best moments in Alabama! They were not impressed with Mobile. Haha. My FL best friend and Auntie frequently took trips to New York City, Miami and Los Angeles.
In the summer of 2011 I moved out of my dad's house. I moved into independent housing units ran by Altapointe. Everyone that lived in the complex had a mental illness. I was finally alone.
I never lived completely alone. Before I always had at least one other person sharing the house with me. I was slowly losing my mind. The loneliness was driving me to insanity! I did not want to live anymore. I could not picture a life alone.
On July 4th 2011 I tried to take my own life. My brain disorder had a tight grip on me. I felt like I could not fight anymore.
Fortunately I texted a few family members of what I was planning to do. My older brother calls me and asks what is the matter. I tell him it is time for me to go to heaven and hang up on him. I texted my family my address so they could find my body. My FL best friend contacted one of my local friends. My local friend called the cops on me. The cops asked me if I wanted to go to the hospital to get better. I agreed to go in the ambulance. I stayed in the ER briefly before I was transferred to the mental ward where I spent five days.
When I was released I got sent back to my apartment where I tried to stay busy. I spent my days going to day treatment. In the evening a few friends would visit me. We would watch TV and have dinner together.
After three months I could no longer stand living by myself. Even though I had a few friends I still felt terribly alone. I moved back in with my dad in August.
Sometimes recovery takes a long time. You need to look back at where you started to realize you are getting better. I am recovering and have come a long way. In the months ahead I am going to show you the changes in my life. Sometimes painfully slow but that made me even more determined.
Sunday, August 3, 2014
When I arrived in Alabama I found out that I would be living on a catfish farm. Now remember that I am a city girl. I am definitely not used to living in the country. The nearest Wal-Mart was about thirty minutes away!
After about a month I went off my medications. We could not afford them. I had no insurance or income at the time. A bottle of my medications cost a few hundred dollars. Besides I started feeling better. I felt that I did not need any medications.
Boy was I wrong! I found out later that schizophrenia is a chronic condition. While there is no cure for my brain disorder but it is treatable with life long medications and therapy.
One day I noticed my step mom holding a knife. Most people would know she was using it for gardening purposes. However my mind was getting ill again and I did not realize it. I thought my step mom was going to kill me. I went to the neighbors house and told them what was going on. They tried to assure me that she meant no harm. I knew they were wrong. I started walking to the church with my bible.
This church was several hours away. I had been walking for about twenty minutes and it was starting to get dark out. My dad was looking for me in his truck. He found me walking and took me back home.
The next day my dad took me to the hospital. I told all of the staff that I could not go home. I believed my step mom wanted to kill me. I got put into the emergency room. I was supposed to stay in my room but I had a habit of wandering around the hallway. In the room next to me was a young couple. The door was open and I stood out smiled and said hello. They said “There she is!” and seemed happy to see me. I took out my candle and a coin with a bible verse on it. I gave the couple my gifts and said it was for good luck. They thanked me.
The next day I got transferred to a mental ward by an ambulance. Even if you are not losing your mind already, staying in mental ward is a sure way to lose your mind! Everyday I would ask my doctor “When can I leave?” The doctor told me I would be going to a group home. I stayed in the mental ward for two weeks.
I lived in a group home for two months. I hated being there! I had completely lost my freedom. I felt confined. They told me when to eat and when to sleep. I called my dad daily asking him to take me away. Dad told me I was not ready to go home just yet. Every other weekend I was able to go home. I carried Bear around with me everywhere. He was my comfort, my companion. He was there to console me and protect me when I needed him.
Dad realized how miserable I was. He took me out of the group home. He could not stand seeing me so sad. The administrator told him if he took me out he would be responsible for buying my medicines. He took me out anyways. He hated seeing his little girl living this way.
I remember how ecstatic I was when I left the group home! I could not believe it! I was free! I was home again. This was my second bout with schizophrenia. This time I knew for sure that there was something wrong with my brain. I was just unaware of how severe my condition was.
Friday, August 1, 2014
My euphoric state of mind was quickly changing. There was a battle in my mind between good and evil. I was mentally exhausted.
It seemed like everything was a message from God. Shows on the TV. Songs on the radio. Flyers. I felt like God was sending instructions especially for me.
I believed I was Mother Earth. That all souls belonged to me. Being guardian of souls I knew the devil was ruling the earth. I was on a mission to take back all of my children.
Sounds kind of like a movie doesn't it? Well I was living it for real. These events did not require imagination. I was living them.
I was home with my FL best friend's Grandma. I became convinced that Grandma was possessed with a demon. I took my bible and tried to pressed it to her face to get rid of the demon. Needless to say she locked me out of her room.
After that I walked for a few hours to a popular mega church. I thought the pastor was the devil in disguise. I was ready for a showdown.
It was getting dark. Nobody was there. I walked around the church looking for a way in but all of the doors were locked.
I spent the night outside at the church. I was waiting for something to happen. I started reading the bible out loud. I was hoping all souls would return to me.
In the morning I walked back to my best friend's house. I knocked on the door but no one answered. I decided to break in through a window.
My best friend calls my older brother. He comes over and they try to calm me down. These two are not my older brother and my best friend. They are clones trying to kill me. I break free and run away. I must get away.
I run like the wind. They can not catch me on foot. Soon they start following me in the car. Sometimes they would pull up in someone's drive way and I would run through peoples' yards.
Apparently they called the police on me. A lady cop stops me and I end up sitting down on the ground. She begins to ask me questions. I explain that my older brother and my best friend are trying to poison me. The lady cop must think I am on drugs because she asks to see what is in my purse. All I had in there was the bible and a few pieces of candy.
The lady cop and her partner put me in the backseat of their cruiser and drive me to the hospital. Next thing I know I am lying down in a bed. A doctor comes to look at me. I see an evil look in his eyes. I take my bible and try to press it against his face. They end strapping me to the bed and I think they gave me a shot.
Not long after I am escorted to the mental ward. One of the patients tells me she is God. Another patient tells me that she is Eve. First lady created by God. Eve tells me there are a few dead people following me. I tell them to leave me alone! Everyone in the mental ward seemed completely normal to me.
As soon as my dad hears whats happened, he, my step mom and my little brother are on their way to get me. My family travels on an eight hour drive from Mobile Alabama to Orlando Florida to bring me home with them.
At this point I am still a bit delusional but more stable than I was before. My older brother, best friend and two close friends come to help me pack my things. I am thankful to see my friends come to say goodbye. I was only slightly sad because I had no idea that this was a permanent move. I thought after I got better I would be back in Orlando after a few months.
This is my first psychiatric breakdown. I am okay for now but this is only the beginning. The doctors told me I had schizophrenia but I am too disoriented to be phased by it. This mental illness is just starting to control my mind.....