Monthly Archives: February 2015

Fascination! And more …

Ok, let’s address some more of these writing prompts!

quixoticfaith asked me to expand upon several issues, and was “fascinated” regarding number four. (When my son disappeared when he was a child, and when he was AWOL from the Army). This was already addressed in a former blog post, Noise and Runaways.

Prompt #11 was: What is the difference between being treated for physical problems as a bipolar in the ER, when the bipolar diagnosis is known, versus when I withhold that information. Writing letters of complaint to the hospital, even though I am not one to complain.

There are two times that I can recall that really burned my britches in regard to medical treatment, and stigma against mental illness. The first is when I went to the ER with complaints of severe chest pain. This pain was not typical of any I had had before, and as a nurse I know that women’s heart disease is of great concern. I didn’t want to mess around with it. When I first got pulled into a room, and the nurse began to go over my health history, I “mentioned” that I had a history of bipolar disorder.

Suddenly I was whisked away to a separate section of the emergency room, “just in case you get anxious, dear. You won’t have to be around other people and be bothered. We’ll see you just as soon as we can.” Wham. The prison doors were shut. I was in a locked unit, and I spent the next I-don’t-know-how-long waiting to be seen. It seemed like hours. Guarded by a man in uniform, not monitored by EKG, nothing. The only concern they seemed to have was my mental health status, not my heart. I was not at that time experiencing any anxiety, other than what one would normally have with an episode of chest pain. I was not manic, or suicidal. Just, “by the way,” bipolar.

Finally, the doctor came in with a very serious expression. No eye contact. Very little in the way of a conversation, an exam, or diagnostic testing. After he was done, I was scuttled out the door with no discharge instructions, and no explanation for the symptoms I’d been experiencing. I almost felt like I’d been assaulted.

That incident resulted in letter #1 to the powers-that-be at the hospital. They had no right to treat me any differently than any other patient who comes in with cardiac type symptoms. They had no right to be concerned that I might “flip out,” just because I had a diagnosis of bipolar. And most of all, they had no right to not pursue and diagnose my cardiac symptoms. I came to one conclusion: The next time I had to come to the ER with a medical concern, I would not disclose my psychiatric diagnoses. They might discover it by other means, I suppose, but I would not volunteer the information. Sure enough, the next time I came to the ER with that in mind, I was treated with respect and concern that was just like that given to any other patient who presented to them.

Incident #2 was at another time, when I had been admitted to the psychiatric hospital for a manic episode. Shortly after my arrival, I began to have cardiac type symptoms, this time, much more severe. This psych hospital was affiliated with the same one that had put me in the back room of the emergency room. The psych hospital did take my blood pressure, and it was 200 something over 100. I was obviously very concerned. But it took me two hours to convince the physician’s assistant that I should be seen by a regular physician. My rights as a human being were being violated, and she would not even consult with anyone else to see what she should do, when I insisted. I believe that refusal had everything to do with the fact that I was having symptoms of my mental illness, and therefore was considered incompetent to make a decision regarding my care. Not cool at all.

Finally, the physician’s assistant agreed to consult with the doctor on call, and I was taken to the regular ER, accompanied by a psychiatric technician. She was a very nice woman, but a very meek one. She was not willing or able to ask for what I needed from the hospital staff. Eventually I was sent to radiation for x-rays and a cat scan, after which I was told that I had a pulmonary embolism, or blood clot in the lungs. This is a very serious medical condition which needs to be treated right away, or sudden death can occur. The doctors told me they would give me medication to dissolve the clot, and I was put in a darkened hallway to await treatment.

Here I was, in full blown mania and alone with the psych tech, waiting for them to save my life. I don’t mean to be so dramatic, but that was how I felt at the time. I had no monitor, and no emergency room staff available. Just a “wait here for a minute,” which became two hours. All I could think about was a man who had died while in my care when I was working as a nurse. He was a patient in the intensive care unit, and had turned blue and died within seconds. I was so shaken at the time by how it had occurred that I even attended his autopsy, to see if there had been anything that I could have done. I remember seeing those big maroon clots in the medical examiner’s glove, as he showed me what had caused the man’s death. And here I was in the hospital, awaiting what I thought might be the same fate. My symptoms of mania continued to escalate, along with the continued chest pain, but the psych tech would not intervene. To me, it was obvious that I needed some attention and care, but I felt like no one was listening.

Finally the resident came to me to tell me that they’d been mistaken, that there was no blood clot after all. Hence, letter #2 to the hospital after I was discharged from the psych hospital. First of all, I explained how the PA at the psych hospital should be disciplined and instructed for not acknowledging my right to be seen by a physician. Second of all, the regular hospital should have provided me protection and support, given my manic condition and severe anxiety. And whether I was manic or not, I should not have been tucked away in a hallway waiting for treatment, given the severity of the diagnosis they thought I had. It was total neglect all around, and certainly the results of that could have been tragic. This is to say nothing of the terror I was experiencing in a state of heightened awareness and emotions.


Well, then! Stay tuned, because I am going to have a part II to address some more writing prompts! But it’s before noon, and I’ve had more than one cohesive thought; I think I have done pretty well this morning!


Noise and Runaways

Otay! in reference to my post “Pick a Number,” in which I listed a number of writing prompts, JAMI of Days of Evolution said: “1) and 4) both sound fascinating.” So I think I will address both of them here.

# 1 of the list said: “I really need the silence.”

Recently I have heard sensitivity to noise referred to as “Misophonia.” I was very surprised to find that there is a word for it! Most of my life I have needed to be in a very quiet environment. Noise just drives me nutty! In fact, I am very much at peace when I have “white noise,” like my fan, going all the time (Say ‘white noise, white noise, white noise, 3 times fast! Ok, but I digress..). I don’t know then if using the fan qualifies as “misophonia,” since white noise is noise.

I wonder if I developed this because of growing up in a large family and sometimes hearing sounds of arguing or conflict going on. As many of you know, if you put 2 children in a room together, there will usually be conflict! Especially if a toy is involved! Then put 2 adults in a room together and well, you don’t even need a toy!

And even without conflict, there is background noise, there is kid noise, there’s the TV going, there’s the “running a household” noise – I am pretty much sensitive to all of them. I would just as soon escape and only hear myself. And even then I have to shush myself. (I do so love the sound of myself typing, though. Lol).

Another reason I am sensitive to noises is the fact that I am an introvert. Or am I an introvert because I am sensitive to noise? Most people would tell you I’m not an introvert. I’m the one who before church goes around and shakes everyone’s hand, especially the new people. I’m the one who at our community dinners is running around making sure everyone has everything they need. I’m the one who will sit down and chat with the person who needs an ear. You would think I was in my element. Well, in a way, I am. It’s what I do. But when it’s over? I run to my little cocoon. And oh please do not get in my way when it’s time for me to go home! And I am so happy. The longer I don’t have to hear people and noises, the better. Ahhhh…  I need the air to be quiet. Don’t chew out loud, don’t scratch out loud, don’t even breathe out loud. Don’t call me, don’t talk to me; go away.

Has it always been this way?

I don’t think so. I mean, the introversion, yes, you bet. But the noise sensitivity? The older I get, the worse it gets.

So, like I said, I don’t know if this counts as misophonia, but I do know I am most happy living alone – and I really need the quiet!


Okay! Jami also said she liked #4. Number four reads: “When my son disappeared when he was a child, and when he was AWOL from the Army.”

Talk about an emotional trigger. Just thinking about this circumstance and I am back there.

The first time was when DS (=dear son) was very young. I can’t say that I remember now how old he was, but way too young to be walking home from school alone, I know that now. It kills me that my memory is so bad that I can’t remember! I tell you this brain is so traumatized (mostly by itself!) that it just won’t work. But anyway, the situation was that I was waiting for DS to come home from school. It was well past the time that he was supposed to be home, and I began to become alarmed. I called a few people who might have known where he was, to no avail. I called his father (the last thing I wanted to do) and DEX (dear ex) came over. That was not my ideal sitch, trust me. I did everything I could to avoid that man, and this was even worse. Not only did I have to see him but I also had to present as a) weak and b) incompetent. Kind of hard to present that keep-your-distance brick wall when you are feeling that vulnerable.

Well, we called the cops, we called numerous friends, people were looking all over the neighborhood for DS. I live in a small-ish city, but large enough to have any number of unsavory persons, especially if my imagination is triggered, which it was. I left DEX at the apartment and started going door-to-door. The longer it was that we couldn’t find DS, the worse I felt. I was panicked and writing the script, each moment thinking of worse and worse things that were happening to our son. There weren’t even that many TV crime shows then, like there are now. But in my mind he had been kidnapped, raped, or horribly maimed and injured. At the very least, he was terrified. I was sure of it.

I held it together pretty well, considering. I was so focused on finding him that I couldn’t fall apart entirely. But the longer he was gone the worse I felt. The darker the sky became, naturally, the more I began to panic.

Finally we found DS. He had been walking, lackadaisically, la la la, along the railroad tracks, about 15 minutes away, for a small wandering boy. When I found out he was okay, all the potential things that could have happened to him ran through my mind. I felt the relief of knowing that he had not gone through all the things I had imagined, including the “run-over-by-a-big-gigantic-steam-engine” scenario.

When I finally got back to the apartment, I saw DS curled up on DEX’s lap, and I barely stopped to give my son a kiss. I walked through to the back end of the apartment, and I don’t think that I have ever cried that loud and hard in all my life. All the tears that I would have cried if something had truly happened to him, I cried in that moment. You would think that he had actually died, the way that I carried on.

Why had he run off? It came out later that he didn’t want to go to “that school” anymore. Back then, the focus seemed to be on telling him what he was doing wrong, versus what he was doing right. In a school that size, it did seem that their focus was more on getting the kids to behave, than to learn. At the time DS was being assessed to see what label they could stick on him, and it felt like I was being called to come get him every other day. So then he’d get to hear from Mom that he was misbehaving.

Shortly after that, DEX and I decided to go to therapy together to see if we could figure out how to help DS. We knew that there were other issues, besides school, that might be causing DS to have trouble. Being in therapy with DEX was the last thing on Earth that I wanted; we’d already tried that when we were married. But after what had happened, and seeing how unhappy DS was, we knew we would try just about anything.

Unfortunately, our focus soon because “us.” DEX started flirting outrageously with me in sessions, and even sent me a gorgeous bouquet of flowers. I could only giggle in response. That poor therapist must have had muscle cramps trying not to roll her eyes. We soon became romantically involved with each other once more. I guess we thought that ultimately that was the thing that would help DS the most – an intact family; a Dad and Mom who loved each other. We got married again and lived hap… no. Nononon. Actually, what happened is that we proved to our DS that the first divorce had been warranted, and we were certifiably insane to have tried it again.

Fast forward: DS is in the Army. Goes AWOL. Talk about déjà vu (by the way, the title of an excellent movie). The way my body and my mind reacted to his going missing, you would think DS was in grade school again. I went absolutely nuts as I imagined all the possible outcomes of his being at large. All our efforts to contact him went unrewarded; he just was not going to answer. His friends all said they had no idea where he was. I wasn’t just worried about him being in danger (although, when a soldier goes AWOL it is a pretty serious thing). I was also worried about whether he was thinking of harming himself. He had access to a weapon and not the best genes in the world, his mom and dad both having a history of addiction and mental illness. I pretty much called out the National Guard and anyone who had any amount of political clout. I wanted my baby home safe and that was all I cared about! Long story short, he returned, physically and emotionally intact, but I was scarred, again, for life. I still don’t do well when he doesn’t return phone calls or answer texts, and that will probably continue until he is 90 years old.

Pick a number, any number

Do any of these topics pique your curiosity? Let me know in the comments, and I will write about them in order of arrival. Help yourself to a topic to write about, or use it as a springboard for one of yours, if you like

  1. I really need the silence
  2. Kindnesses rendered
  3. Write as if you have decided not to blog after this; your last blog
  4. When my son disappeared when he was a child, and when he was AWOL from the Army.
  5. Psalm 95:6-7 (discussion)
  6. The beauty of the ordinary in photos
  7. I have no patience to wait for things
  8. Why I hate speedy wake ups
  9. I have more depression since I started blogging – is it the reading or the writing?
  10. I love flowers
  11. The difference between treated for other problems as a bipolar in the ER – when it is known versus when I withhold that information. Writing letters of complaint to the hospital even though I am not one to complain.
  12. We all need help with something
  13. My struggle with jealousy/envy
  14. Not talking about people in my blog – frustrated because I want to! So and so drives me crazy, this one I love, this one done me wrong song, etc. But isn’t it healthier to keep the focus on myself, anyway?
  15. Saying yes to life
  16. being short – humor
  17. tithing and offerings, versus paying my bills
  18. “Do what you love the money will follow,” a book I read
  19. difference between a Christian counselor and lay counselor, I think I already wrote this one
  20. The book I was going to write (autobiography), Shedding shells, including using photography and onion skin paper, making a mock-up of it – the beauty of the book as work of art as much as a literary “masterpiece” (haha)
  21. How I felt it was important to tell on people when I was in early recovery (sobriety and mental health), wanting to go on Oprah, Dr. Phil, etc.
  22. Reading other people’s blogs
  23. Writing fiction – blogging a chapter at a time
  24. Singing/writing songs and poetry as a child – building self esteem and why it didn’t work
  25. sexual abuse memories and whether they are true or not
  26. Story about the woman in the car moving to the passenger side.
  27. Trying not to think/ work that hard (even because of vision issues) v. lack of concentration
  28. My mother worked on a Fisherman knit sweater for my stepfather – a gesture of love

don’t stomp the grapes

I had not heard of this acronym for depression, G R A P E S
Anyone here used it?
For more info see:

facing off with the big d

grapes is an acronym for mental wellness. let’s review.

gentle with yourself






how many did your accomplish today?

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I Don’t Wanna, Talk About It, Part II

Part of the reason I don’t wanna talk about it is I have awful laryngitis.

But also I am doing the censoring thing; I am depressed and I don’t wanna talk about it.  I really don’t want to hear myself whiiiiine … oh my gosh! Enough!

I have been thinking the last few days what I wanted to blog about and there are plenty of ideas but I don’t have the energy to write anything.

Sorry I haven’t been replying to your posts very much!