Daily Word Prompt: Expert


This is today’s Daily Prompt word. I have been thinking this over the last half hour or so, trying to come up with something. Everyone is an expert in something or other. Whether it be in healthcare, mental health, computers, banking, etc. Someone is always good at the one thing another is not.

I recently am having an argument with a psychologist about stigma. He proposes that there should be check ups with psychologists for adolescents. It’s a great idea but I asked, who was going to pay for it and second what about the stigma. His response was typical, obviously insurance companies and how can there be stigma for a check up? UM, we are not talking a check up for a medical professional. We are talking about psych check ups and that is a different ballgame. I know because I have experienced it first hand with a family member who has OCD. Her parents don’t think she should be in treatment because they have different views on the matter. The father doesn’t think there is anything wrong and the mother knows there is something wrong. It is so frustrating to see this happening to someone I love and care about. So yes, stigma will be an issue because the parent will say “my kid isn’t crazy so therefore doesn’t need a check up by a psychologist or other mental health professional”.

I know this guy thinks he is the “expert” here but from my experience, I think I know what I am talking about. I went through it when I was a teen. After I cut my wrist and the school nurse found out about it, I basically had to “lie” to a counselor to avoid therapy because I certainly wasn’t “crazy” enough for it. Yes, I wanted to end my life but I wasn’t about to divulge that information with my mother standing outside the door. If my mother was more accepting of my mental health issues, maybe things would have been different. But she thought that I should go to her with my problems so not to get professional help. Yea, cause you did that when I was 10 and told you I wanted to end my life then. Sorry you lost my trust and you never got it back. But I digress…

The new thing in the mental health field is “lived experience”. Basically, it goes on the assumption that the client/patient is the expert on his/her condition and therefore should have a say in treatment matters. I am lucky that I have always had professionals that sought out my input on what to do for my condition, especially my mental health issues. If they were to be the “experts” and I was just to stand by and let them dictate what they thought I should be doing, I would be pushing up daisies right now. For me, there has to be an equal give and take or it’s just not going to work.

Brick Walls

7-Aug-14 Brick Walls

I am currently on a psychiatric unit in a hospital. I’ve been here for a week now, with no hope of getting out anytime soon. I am here because I am profoundly suicidal. All I see are brick walls surrounding me and they keep on closing in on me. It’s like a prison that only I can see. I am surrounded by these bricks and no one cares how high they get. And they certainly don’t care how they got there.

I want to take my life because I am stuck, just like these brick walls. The cement has hardened each brick into place so you cannot move it. My thoughts of suicide have also hardened to the point where they don’t budge. I feel very hopeless that this hospitalization will not help detach one of these bricks so that I make break free of the confinement I feel. If enough bricks fall, I may see the light at the end of the tunnel. But I doubt that will happen. I never see the light for long. I am always in a dark place. I am always feeling hopeless. And hopelessness and suicidal thoughts are not a good combination. They seal the cement and lock me in to this confinement that I am in.

The doctor and staff are trying their best to keep hope alive for me, but I just don’t see it. All I see is the brick wall that is impenetrable. Nothing or nobody can get through it or to me. It will take more than a jack hammer or two to get through to me right now. And it seems that no one owns one. The staff is too busy to care about the bricks. They just want the cement to fall to force me to see the light as the bricks become loose. Just so they can discharge me. They don’t care how the bricks were formed. And this hurts because no one takes the time to see how much I am hurting like they used to.

I have been trying to stay in the moment but my moments are just filled with suicidal thoughts and feelings. They are also filled with plans on how to end my life. Each thought makes the brick wall stronger so no one can breakthrough. Each brick has been mounted with feelings of inadequacy, shame, indignity, depression, hopelessness, worthlessness, and unbearable pain. Pain is the biggest brick. It lies in the center surrounded by the other bricks that I just mentioned. It exceeds all others in thickness and size. It is killing me, literally and physically, to be in unbearable pain all the time. The pain stems from just left of the sternum of the chest wall and captivates the entire left side of the chest cavity. It is a pressure felt day in and day out. In essence, it is like a ton of bricks weighing on my heart.

As the cement hardens around the brick, making it so difficult to breathe, the pressure on the chest increases. No medical tests exists to identify this weight. It’s not visibly present. That makes it difficult to explain without the feeling of sounding crazy. Who is going to believe a suicidal person that there is a weight on the chest when no one can see or feel it? It is not measured by tests or electrocardiograms. It is just a heaviness that fills your soul. And the soul cannot be seen or felt. Nor can it be measured. No one’s pain is the same. Each is unique to that individual. And my pain is what is strangling me in this moment of time.

The pain is always present in times of despair. It ruins any hope one might have and increases the weight of the bricks bearing down on you. Nothing alleviates this pain. There are no pills that can ease the pressure or painful despair. It’s ever present and deepens the despair because no one understands it. All the symptoms of depression and suicidal thinking makes it very difficult to treat. And the longer it lasts, the higher the brick wall is built. Will the doctors and social workers have what it takes to help bring down the brick and mortar? Very unlikely. They don’t have the time to really get to know me, much less help me. I have resigned myself to stay within these brick walls until they envelope me so I can no longer breathe. Each day they move closer, causing me to feel more isolated and the feeling of suffocation grows stronger. Love doesn’t have any effect on these walls that have surrounded my heart. My heart has become stone a long time ago. Only negative feelings are allowed to pass through. I have given up on positive feelings ever passing through my little barricade. It took years for the brick wall to be built. It might take years to be torn down. But the suicide demons won’t allow that. This time the brick walls will win. I no longer have the energy to chisel my way out of my own prison. But then, I am in a psych ward where chisels are not allowed. You just expected to go to groups to cope with the demons rather than allow them to fall.

And because no one knows the depth of my prison, I am here for a long time, in solitary confinement. The walls are dark and gray, just the way that I feel inside. I doubt I would ever get parole from this darkness that fills my soul. If I do, it is only for a short time before I am back in solitary. The light barely has a chance to touch me before everything becomes dark again. That is why I don’t trust happiness or feeling good. I much rather be content about things than feel happiness. Happiness, to me, is a fleeting emotion that is hard to hold onto. It is slippery like silk, never lasting more than a few minutes and devastating when it leaves you.

So I sit here in my room, surrounded by darkness so the sunlight won’t come in, staring at the brick wall and it staring back, trapped in my own prison.

surviving depression

I know what you are going through. Sometimes I think that everyone would be better off without me. The only thing that is keeping me alive these days is my word to my therapist that I won’t go through with my thoughts. The pain of living is just too much to bare right now. My therapist often asks me how I get through this. There is a quote that I keep telling her that I got from one of Kay Redfield Jamison’s book, “Only one option left, to suffer”. She is my inspiration as she has bipolar disorder, tried to kill herself, and is one of the leading researchers/teachers of the disorder. I know it doesn’t make sense to suffer all the time but millions of people out there do it everyday. We few that are in this group do it every day, though it is most difficult and we come from different backgrounds and sections of the world. I know it sucks, but the trick is to realize when we feel this way, it is NOT our true selves, it is the disorder that is talking. I know we all feel like scum of the earth for no reason other than for being allowed to breathe, to be something called alive that we wish we didn’t have to be. One reason why I have read so much about depression and there are a lot of good books out there, is that you have to know the disorder, understand it, then you can know what to do, sometimes when it isn’t hitting you on the head with a 60 lb hammer. Sometimes knowing the demons is better than not knowing them. I know that it isn’t always easy when our physical bodies wreck our lives and we are no longer feel apart of the human race because our b&b are not functioning and we have physical pain that si driving us insane. But things aren’t always going to be this way. One of the books that I had read said that suicide is complete in 10 minutes and if you wait out those ten mins, you will survive. The same thing goes for depression. Though instead of 10 mins, it’s more like 10 days or more. But it doesn’t last. Eventually it lifts, and we return to “normal” functioning until the next episode. The HARDEST part of this fucking disorder is that we forget that we have survived the worse of it. Every time we are stuck in an episode, we think it is for the first time, that we are NEVER going to feel better, ever. I am telling you that you are. No matter how hopeless you feel right now, tomorrow might be a better day and if it is not, least you survived today. Worry about tomorrow, tomorrow I’ll be here for you. Count on it.

About the mood stabilizers, I suffer from bipolar depression, which is a little different than major depression. I sometimes have periods where I am really hyper, don’t sleep, eat, think I am on top of the world, talk excessively, and can’t stand still. These periods don’t last too long, maybe a week or two, then I either have a period of being normal and/or crash big time. I take Trileptal for it and it has helped some with the Cymbalta. Trileptal is an anti-convulsant that is used a “mood stabilizer”. There are other drugs that are used, but you should be seen by a psychiatrist for evaluation. Most GP’s don’t have a clue about psychotropic meds and it isn’t a good idea for them to play around with it if you don’t have the diagnosis.

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month

May is National Mental Health Month by Presidential Proclamation. I know I should feel happy that steps are being made to make mental health issues more aware to people but at the same time, I can help but feel resentful that I cannot find a therapist within a five mile radius of my house because of the severity of my illness. When my therapist and I knew that I couldn’t see her anymore because distance was a factor, I tried finding another therapist. I didn’t try once or twice. I tried ten fricken times. The last therapist that I saw locally was at a mental health clinic I used to go to as a teen but he was too scared of me. He was too afraid I might kill myself so that made it difficult for me to trust him. How could I work with some one that was scared of me? I am sure my current therapist gets scared when I tell her I am suicidal. Her anxiety goes up because she like to talk stupid things. I get that me being suicidal is not easy for mental health clinicians. It’s a clinician’s worse nightmare to hear that their client is suicidal or thinking about ending their life. But I know there are going to be a lot of people who have had past attempted suicides that are going to be in the same boat I am. No one wants to deal with this population. It is a crying shame. And no wonder Suicide is a leading killer of the United States.

In addition to me having mental health issues, I also have physical issues that prevent me from walking long distances. It makes me crazy that I have this problem and my mental health team does so much to help me deal with it. I was once working two jobs, but that proved to be too much for me and now I am collecting social security benefits and wondering if I will ever be able to hold down a job again. I don’t know. I really want to go back to school but I cannot afford it financially. I have defaulted on my student loans so there is no hope of me ever going back to school on my income. I know it is my fault and it pains me so severely that I want to kill myself because I know I have wrecked whatever credit I ever had. It physically and emotionally hurts knowing that my credit is fucked. I can never own another credit card for as a long as I live and I cannot begin to think of what lies ahead. I always hear that some jobs require a credit history check. If that is the case for me, I know I will not be able to get back to work.
I hate the idea of not being able to support myself. I know that I have made mistakes in my life and if I could do it over again, I would not make the same one. I would be further along in my degree and I would be on my way of being the kind of therapist I want to be. I know that there will always be risks with working with suicidal clients. I know because I am one of them. But mental health awareness campaigns do help screen for depression. But it doesn’t help those that want to kill themselves. Very rarely do you see the question on questionnaires, do you or have you thought of killing yourself in the past week.

So I wonder now that May is mental health awareness month, will I be able to find a therapist within a five mile radius from my house?