What Mental Illness Feels Like (Part 1)

I will be doing a series of videos about Mental Illness, related to Bipolar Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, ADHD and PTSD. This is the first in the series. I have several reasons for wanting to do these videos. * To raise awareness. To help those that do not understand what we go through on a daily basis. * To put a ‘face’ to Mental Illness. * To spread hope to those that need it. * To help others maybe feel not so alone.

Que Pasa?

It is 1:30am, and I would like to be in bed asleep now. I am mentally exhausted, but I have all of this crap on my mind. This time I decided to hop on my laptop and type, instead of reciting this over in my mind a million times.
(I started this last night. Between then and now, I decided to drop most of the details I did write about, no need for them)

Names, relations, identities and situations have been changed/generalized to protect the privacy of all involved. While I do discuss personal details in this blog, they are my personal details. I believe those around me have a right to privacy, and I will not infringe upon those rights.

There we were, dealing with everything that life has recently thrown at us (mainly my medical issues) and my husband starting school again… Then last Monday a relative needed some help. We were in the situation to help him out. We did have the option to do nothing, but that is not who we are. So this person has lived with us since Friday. ***off topic*** It has been strange, because I am not having any problems with him living with us, where a few years ago there is no way I would have been able to handle it. I could/can barely handle living with my husband, much less another young person. ***back on topic*** We have a small 2 bedroom apartment, so it is tight living quarters, not much privacy anymore. Let’s see how long I can handle it ;) Not sure how long he is going to stay with us, but we did give him the option to stay as long as he needs.

Yesterday said person’s good friend needed some help. My husband being the wonderful person that he is offered to help. So my husband made a round trip total of 9 hours to help this friend out. More than that was done, but no need to go into details. I love that man! (my husband, that is ;) )

Tomorrow I am getting an endoscopy. Things are good.

So, um… I feel pretty damn good. One thing that bothers me a little is I am questioning that I seem to be doing so well given the current circumstances. I wonder if it has to do with my having Bipolar Disorder/Borderline Personality Disorder. I question my current state of mind. Well, I question it when I am doing well. I never question it when I am depressed though. Does anyone else do this? I do not question when I am hyper/manic either. So why the heck do I question it when I am doing well. I guess I wonder, am I doing well? Or do I just not care, or am I in denial. Okay, so I don’t question when the circumstances are good and I am doing well. I question when the circumstances are crappy and I am doing/feeling well. I don’t know… Now that I am writing all of this, I have confused myself and the point I was trying to make. Maybe one of you will understand what I am getting at. If you do, PLEASE reply here or reply to my e-mail: graciella75@hotmail.com (I would greatly appreciate that, and/or any suggestions you may have)

I guess that is it for now…

Maybe not… teehee… as I was “tagging” this post, I came upon ‘acceptance’. Now I am thinking, that just might be it. Not not caring, not denial, not numb… Radical Acceptance. I did got through Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)…

Okay, bye for now ;) Hugs, Love, Peace and Happiness <3

Oh wait… I do get some major anxiety at night. Not sure if I wrote about stopping benzos in this blog… but I decided the best thing for me right now, is to get back on them, but that is another topic.

Okay, seriously, for real this time… Bye ;)

1 done

Hey folks :)

Had the cystoscopy done today. Was not too bad, a bit uncomfortable. Then severe pain and discomfort after the procedure. I am okay though. The good news: the doctor said it does not look like I have a urethral diverticulum (so we will put that on the back burner). The not-so-good news: I may have bladder cancer, BUT not to worry, if it is in the first stages it can be treated. Treatment will be a pain, having to have a cystoscopy every 3 months and some other stuff. She really did not go into details because they have to do surgery first to find exactly what is going on. The surgery is scheduled in February (after my 40th birthday ;) ) to remove the abnormal area and get it biopsied.

It was cool looking at the screen and being able to see inside my bladder (although I had seen it before). The ‘abnormal’ area looked like something from SpongeBob SquarePants ;) I drew a picture of what it looked like.
Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 4.35.38 PM

I am still in good spirits. I did get a little stressed… angry stressed, which is not good for me or anyone around me ;) I am okay now though. I got stressed because I knew how uncomfortable the procedure is. Not too worried about the endoscopy next week, I will be knocked out for that ;)

I am not worrying about this because I did that before. I totally freaked out and was stressing when I first was told that I ‘probably’ had a urethral divirticulum. I cried and stressed for a few months about it… and for what??? Nothing. So I have learned to not concern myself with things that have yet to happen. I am human, so some concern is normal. But I am not going to waste precious time fretting about this. And even then, worrying does not change things. I will take action, and move on. That is all I can do. I have learned to let go. I cannot control everything… yeah, I know, I used to think I could, because I am Bekr the all knowing all controlling ;) All I can control are my reactions (for the most part). Okay, enough rambling, time for some red beans and rice… yumminess!!

I’m not stressed…maybe I am…

Today I went on a cleaning frenzy. A freaked out cleaning frenzy. Something smelled like it died in my closet and it has driven me batty. It is so wonderful having a heightened sense of smell. SO anyway, that smell drove me to clean the entire apartment. And light candles in every room ;)

I get like that sometimes. I may let our place get slightly dirty, meaning I don’t clean for a little while because I cannot find the energy. And it may not bother me for a little while… then I just totally freak out and have to clean everything.

That is not the point of this post though. But getting like this, is what prompted me to write this post.

As per my earlier post, I have plenty going on this month. All of which deal with different medical and mental health issues. While I do not think I am stressed nor feel very worried about all of this; my body is telling me otherwise. I don’t know, I am all sorts of confused about this. I am not actively worried nor stressed, but I am only human.

This is what is going on:

This Monday I will be getting a cystoscopy done. I have had this done before, as I have chronic bladder issues. I do not look forward to this as it is VERY uncomfortable and a bit painful. BUT this doctor knows what she is doing, and knows that I previously had a gynecologist and urologist argue about my diagnosis. That diagnosis was that I had a urethral diverticulum, which is one of those things difficult to diagnose, it looks like one thing, but may be another. Anyway, she will look for the cyst during the cystoscopy and if she finds it, will use a needle to get a sample. The sample will help determine if it is in fact a urethral diverticulum or a regular cyst. Either way, I will be relieved to have answers.

Then Friday and all other Fridays for the next couple of months I will be delving into my history of sexual assault and abuse. It is something I feel I have to do to move on and live my life for me. I realize how difficult this is going to be, but hopefully it will be worth it. This therapy is Prolonged Exposure Therapy. I do not want to do it, but obviously trying to move on by forgetting about it has not made any difference nor helped at all.

The week after that, on Tuesday, I will be having an endoscopy done. Again, another procedure I have had quite a few times. I think this will be my 5th time. I had a precancerous esophagus polyp removed in 2007ish (thankfully it was found and removed in time). I have had 2 endos done after that for follow ups, and had no polyps. Monday, I saw the doctor that will be performing the procedure and he was great. He explained what other doctors have not. He said he will be taking biopsies, and pictures and all sorts of stuff. Which, to me, is a good thing. All about the details, the more the better, right? I have already been diagnosed with GERD, hiatal hernia, and gastritis. He thinks I may also have pernicious anemia, which is a form of anemia that occurs when the stomach lacks a naturally occurring substance needed to properly absorb and digest vitamin B12. I have to do a blood test to find out.

Sooooo, that is what is going on :)

For more information about this crap, check these links out:

Cystoscopy: http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/cystoscopy-16692

Urethral Diverticulum: http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/269493-overview

Prolonged Exposure Therapy: http://www.nrepp.samhsa.gov/ViewIntervention.aspx?id=89

Gastrointestinal Endoscopy: http://www.emedicinehealth.com/gastrointestinal_endoscopy/article_em.htm

My Joy, My Pain

The Good News:

I did not have to start the session I had thought in Prolonged Exposure Therapy before Christmas. (See previous post – Scared… Prolonged Exposure Therapy)

The Bad News:

I still have to do it. Not this Friday because my Therapist rescheduled the appointment, so I have to wait until next Friday. I just want to get this part started and done with, so I do not have to keep “thinking” about it. I have been a bit surprised though, I thought I would be thinking about it more. Last night was the first night that I could not stop thinking about it (since PE Therapy started). It was so vivid in my mind, rehashing what happened. It was while I was in bed trying to go to sleep. Needless to say, I had nightmares about it.

In Other Good News:

Christmas ended up being wonderful. We drove to our hometown and stayed there a little over 1 week. The drive was a pain because it was so long (3 days), but at least it went smoothly. We drove back on New Year’s Eve. Would have been nice to stay a little longer, but I had appointments and had to get back before a certain time. Anyway, it was not as stressful as I figured it would be. You know: family, parents, Holidays… I was in a good state of mind, and did not let anything bother me. I enjoyed spending time with my family. It was a pleasant experience. I normally associate the Holidays with stress, anxiety and depression. This time was different. I was in some sort of strange Christmas Spirit. I felt completely different… Good different. I was happy.

So here is to another pretty good damn year ;) I am getting many health issues taken care of. And by that I mean, I am seeing doctors, making my appointments and having tests/procedures done to ‘finally’ get proper diagnosis/treatment. So far it seems like my Urologist and Gastroenterologist Doctor’s are very good. I have had 1 appointment with each of them. I have explained my issues: this and that is wrong and other doctor’s have not been able to find a diagnosis. They listened to me, explained things that need to be done and possible diagnosis. I have a procedure scheduled for each. Hopefully will find the problems and start a treatment plan. Those are my health issues. With my mental health, I am going through Prolonged Exposure Therapy. So while, I will be going through some extremely difficult ‘things’, I am looking forward to getting all of this taken care of and moving on with my life. It has only taken 40 years for me to get to this point… but hey, at least I am here ;)

Scared… Prolonged Exposure Therapy

It has been a while since I have written here. Not sure why… I have plenty of topics to write about. In fact, I write in my mind almost every night. For some reason, gathering those thoughts, getting to my laptop and writing seems difficult.

Anyway, I figured it was time to write, plus I am having a difficult time with something. That is what I will be writing about tonight.

I am going through Prolonged Exposure therapy for my PTSD from history of sexual assault/abuse. Prolonged Exposure therapy is done in steps.

  • Education: the therapist discusses the process, what the therapy entails, and the goals of treatment.
  • Breathing: the therapist teaches a breathing technique to help to calm one down.
  • Imaginal Exposure: this is where the patient talks about the traumatic experience in detail over and over. All of the sessions are recorded. Part of this step is to listen to the recording over and over.
  • Real World Practice/In Vivo exposure: This is where the patient is exposed to real activities/places/situations which the patient avoided because of the trauma.

All of this is done to relieve the trauma symptoms and the stress it causes. There is much more to it, I am not going to much into details now.

I have been to two sessions, Friday will be my third session. This means I am on the third step: Imaginal Exposure. I am terrified. I will have to discuss in detail everything that took place. I have a great imagination and see things clearly when I think of them. So when I will be going over what happened, I will be seeing it in my mind like it is happening all over again. I know talking about it won’t kill me and that I am in a safe environment… but still… I am not looking forward to it.

I have thought maybe this is not a good time of the year to be doing this. The Holidays. The weather. I do not want to ruin Christmas because I am doing this. And then what? Will I associate every Christmas with this? (Since that is what we tend to do). I did not have the option when to start this therapy. I am hoping this will not send me over the edge. The purpose of doing this is to be able to get over what happened. I do not like that phrase, but it is the only way I think of it. Not necessarily ‘get over it’, but not letting it affect me the way it does. Being able to move on with my life, move past it.

I have many traumatic events, not just one. There is one that sticks out the most though. I will be discussing many traumatic events. Who in their right mind would want to do this? I don’t want to do this, I need to do this. I am tired of the traumatic events affecting my daily life, my marriage. I am ready (not really) to face this. I want to move on. I never discussed this before in my regular therapy sessions for many reasons: shame, fear, embarrassment. I wanted to forget about it… that did not work.

Has anyone done this type of therapy or know anyone that has done it? What was your/their experience with it?