The Second Stay

Due to my lack of recovery in the time between my first stay in the hospital, I made the somewhat conscious decision to check myself back into the mental hospital. My paranoia about the cars and the church bells had fully encompassed my mind set and I couldn’t function being outside of my house.  It was like I had become a hermit invalid.    I couldn’t go to the grocery store, run simple errands, or do anything other than pace around the apartment trying to get out of my head.  I was manic and depressed and everything else that goes along with the aftermath of having a full on psychotic break.  This is why I decided to go back in – nothing was making me better.

My psychiatrist had finally come to the emergency room to see me and offered me a bed in his mental hospital, starting that night.  So, my husband and I came back home, I packed a minimal bag of clothing, ate a quick bite of dinner and drove to the hospital.  Upon check-in, I was told to kiss my husband goodbye and I was sent up to the same floor where I had stayed previously.  I didn’t sign any papers – not that I can remember, at least.  I don’t think my husband signed anything either.  I don’t know how they handle that situation.  I was always under the impression that you had to sign yourself in and you could sign yourself out, but that was not my experience.

I did the typical check in ritual where they weighed you, asked you what medications you were taking, took your picture and assigned you your room.  I was initially put in a completely private room where they handed me a set of sheets because I volunteered to make my own bed.  I started to make the bed and was then told I couldn’t stay in that room.  They moved me back to the same exact room that I was staying in before, only this time I was to have a roommate.

Her name was June.  I don’t know exactly why she was in the hospital, she never talked about it, but I had known a June from my childhood and I found a connection to this person being my roommate.  She had a child and a husband and was from a couple cities away, I’m not sure how she ended up in New Orleans seeking treatment.  Not my business, anyway.  She might have attempted suicide or had a big fight with her husband, but I don’t think they put you in a mental hospital for fighting with your husband.  I digress…the point is that I had a roommate and her name was June and I was reading into the reasons for her being my roommate.

I was in the hospital with an entirely different group of people this go round.  They were more like me.  They all seemed sane, sort of.  I was trying to appear sane, but was having a hard go of it.  Luckily, I was away from cars and church bells.  I also wasn’t as manic, so I didn’t have the attitude that I was God’s gift to the Universe.  It felt like people were more on the same playing field this time around.  It made me uncomfortable.

The previous time, I had bought my protection with granola bars and the rest of my meals.  That sort of situation wasn’t going to fly this time around.  I remember that another girl named Sarah showed up a couple days into my stay.  I had also known a Sarah during my childhood, so I focused on her being there in the hospital as well.  I bring her and June up because I actually asked one of the aides if they put people together in the same hospital on purpose.  Like somehow, the hospital staff knew that I knew a June and a Sarah when I was little.  It all felt very connected and weird and like they were trying to tell me something with the addition of these people.  The aides answer?  “I can’t tell you that information.”  Now if that doesn’t make a paranoid conspirators bells and whistles go off, I don’t know what will!  His answer did not provide me with any solace.

I didn’t try as hard this stay.  I skipped therapy meetings in order to sleep and wasn’t as focused on my release.  I guess I felt safe among the insane.  They must have changed my medication half a dozen times during my stay, but I was still not seeing any improvement to my condition.  Of course, those meds take weeks for them to establish themselves in your system, but some relief would have been nice.

My husband still came to visit me religiously.  I was still a little angry at him, but most of the extreme rage had passed.  I still had a few times where I asked him to leave before visiting hour was over.  The staff always respected my decision and would escort him to the elevators, where I would hug him and kiss him good bye.  I don’t know how he put up with me asking him to leave.  It had to have hurt…but, he did what I asked.

At this point I had developed a new delusion in my thinking.  I thought the government was out to get me.  I met this one guy in the hospital who was ex military and I told him my delusions.  Big mistake.  He believed me, probably because he was just as vulnerable as I was.  Somehow, I ended up giving him my phone number to call me once we were both out of the hospital.  He actually called, I think in an effort to “save” me, but my husband put the kabosh on that budding friendship.  Looking back, I am glad he did.  I made a big mistake revealing my delusions to him and an even bigger mistake giving him my phone number.  If I ever end up back in the mental hospital, I will definitely be keeping my cards hidden.

The best part of the stay at the hospital were two aides that worked the night shift, Glenda and Lyndon.  Glenda was no-nonsense but I liked her name and associated her with The Wizard of Oz.  She was a good witch!  There was something very kind about her and I appreciated that.  Lyndon was my absolute favorite, though.  He would check on me at night time and make sure I was okay.  After the times when I asked my husband to leave, I was always very weepy and he would talk to me privately.  (As privately as you can get in that type of place!)  He told me, “Kel, you are going to be okay.  You are going to get better and this is just going to be a bump in the road.”  I needed someone kind to tell me that.  My psychiatrist never said anything like that, my therapist never said anything like that, my husband tried but he was too close to the source, and everyone else was freaking out because I was sick and not getting better.  I owe Lyndon a lot.  He motivated me to start working toward getting out of the hospital, when all I wanted to do was stay and hide.

So, I got my shit together.  I started going to every meeting and eating my meals.  I would participate in group therapy and would ask my psychiatrist every day when I was being released.  Finally, after two weeks, I was released.  I didn’t have the same kind of relief that I had the first time being let out of the hospital.  Mainly, I had fear.  I didn’t know how I was going to be able to function, because I hadn’t been functioning up to that point anyway.  I had resigned myself to the fact that I was too sick to get a job, so that just left me at home alone and by myself.  That was not a good situation for me.

So, it was decided for me that I would move back to Texas.  I went back into the mental hospital on October 22, 2011 and my dad flew in to drive me back to live with them at the beginning of November.  It was time to do some serious work and be around people who could watch me 24/7.  I wasn’t very pleased with the fact that I was being sent away, but what would come out of that sabbatical would change the course of my recovery for the better.  I had yet to realize it would turn out that way…

Trying to Write

I’m working on continuing my story, but I’m finding that I’m having a hard time.  My thoughts are coming out jumbled and don’t flow like I want them to…it is frustrating.  I’m not exactly sure why I am writing this post, other than to let you know that I am still working on providing good content that you might want to linger and read for a bit.

Perhaps it’s being spent from my day at work, I don’t know.  I am trying to figure out a schedule so that I can be clear and write what I want to write, but I haven’t found that balance just yet.  Please don’t give up on me yet.  I’m working on finding a balance.

I used to write in the mornings before I went to work, and that might turn out to be what I do, I just feel so rushed in the mornings.  By the time I get home every day, there isn’t much time left.  I started out writing this blog with such good intentions and I’m frustrated that I have been neglecting it.

I will find my balance.  Somehow, someway.  Thanks for sticking it out with me…

Work and Zombies

So things have been quite busy for me as of this past week.  I’m liking my new job, which is awesome, but it doesn’t give me much time to focus on my writing.  Up at 5 a.m., home by 6 p.m., dinner and bed by 9.  Goodness, I feel old!  But, the extra cash flow is nice and very much needed.  Momma’s got to pay those student loans back someday!

I find myself behaving kind of manically at my new job.  It isn’t bad, per say, I think it’s just that I haven’t had human contact on this level for a very long time and I so much want the people I work with to like me.  I get excited when they engage me in conversation and I might come across as over eager.  I guess you could say I’m a people pleaser.  That isn’t such a bad thing, is it?  I have been fired from so many jobs prior to this gig that I don’t want to screw anything up or give them a reason to let me go.  I don’t think that will happen, I’m just a little jaded, I suppose, and like I said I don’t want to screw this up.  I NEED THIS JOB!

So, this past weekend, my husband and I were given the opportunity to participate in a Mardi Gras parade.  It was for the Krewe of Chewbacchus, which is just like it sounds, a parade based on the great Wookie himself, Chewbaccha.  It’s a fun parade with all kinds of geekdom going on.  You have people who dress up like Star Trek characters, Star Wars characters (duh), Dr. Who characters, etc.  Pretty much anything you might find at Comic Con has a place in this parade.  My brother has a zombie themed brass band back in Texas and he brought his band to march in the parade.  My husband and I got to be the banner holders that lead the band.

It was a ton of fun – lots of drinks and good people and happy times.  The downside is that we ended up walking about 12 miles on Saturday, given the parade length and the walking to and from various locations so we could be a part of the parade.  I am sooooo sore from all that walking and I have blisters on the balls of my feet.  OUCH!  But, all in all, I think it was totally worth the effort.  It was so much fun handing out beads to the people in the crowds.  We also got lots of high fives and fist bumps when we didn’t have anything left to hand out.  I would do it again…my husband on the other hand, is a different story.

So, I leave you with this picture of my husband and I dressed up in our zombie best.  May the force be with you!  And, your brains look delicious!

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New Job

I got hired!  I’m so exciting to be working on this project – this job has been a long time coming for me.  Yesterday was my first day and I’m working on something completely foreign to me, but still using the skills I have required over the years in my other jobs.  I’m getting ready to head out the door for my second day and I’m actually looking forward to work!  That hasn’t happened in a long time.  It’s just going to be tough navigating getting to and from work due to all the happenings of Mardi Gras.  I take the street car to work and we live right on the parade route.  It’s going to take some masterful fan-angling in order to get home from work each day because the street car shuts down 2 hours before each parade.  Parades are in the evening.  Guess my hubby is going to have to come pick me up on the days there are parades.  I know that adds stress to his day, but at least I’m bringing in an income!  I hope you all are happy and well.  I will write more later today when I get off work.

Cheers!

Looking Back

I’m sharing with you today a piece I wrote on my old blog just after my mental break.  I was still extremely manic and angry and confused.  This post doesn’t make much sense to someone just coming in from nowhere and picking up my story.  Reading this post now, 3+ years later, I am reminded of how truly out of my mind I was.  I’m simply offering this as evidence to my declined mental health.  In it, I say that I am a “whole person”.  That is the farthest thing from the truth given the point I was at when I wrote this.  Please be kind…

connect the cause and effect

one foot in front of the next

this is the start of a journey

– Gnarls Barkley, Going On

Dear NOLA,

It’s been a while since I’ve written you a love note, but please rest assured that I still love you more than the moon and the stars.  I love my peeps in LA and TX, and boy do I have peeps!  I never realized how my sparkles and sunshine put a smile on some peoples’ faces.  That really makes me feel loved, knowing that people are laughing at with me as I stumble my way through becoming a full fledged New Orleanian and honoring my strong, “Remember the ALAMO!” approach to life.  I wear my Fleur De Lis pin with pride, like a badge of honor.  I’ve earned those stripes now.  I’m a whole person and the “finishing school” that I was enrolled in for the past 6 weeks held up a gorgeous mirror and assisted me in my transition into who I want to be when I have finished cleaning out my house.  

I just thought I knew what it means to miss MY New Orleans.  MY New Orleans is EVERYONE’s New Orleans and that’s why I love you, NOLA.  You give everyone a gracious, southern hug and a hankie when he or she needs a good cry in the proverbial bubble bath.  You even feed your “chickens” filling comfort foods and tight squeezes of the hand. To top it off, every member of the restaurant/hotel/hospitality industry is kinetically infused into the pulse of this city.  Combined with the efforts of the N.O.P.D. and major shake-ups in city government, and I have a front row seat to a fascinating study in city planning. I am learning the world by observing your constant adjustments to your gumbo recipe.

Let me say this:  I’ve always been a bit of a Nervous Nelly.  I’m really shy and overcompensate with my loud, VIVA LE TEJAS! attitude.  I have also spent my life with the knowledge that the world IS my stage.  I just have a hard time differentiating between “front of house” and “back of house”.  I have a slightly better understanding of the pulse and mojo going on in Southeastern LA, but by no means do I claim to know anything except what my mom and dad, friends and family have told me and through my own experiences here.

Thank you, New Orleans, for giving me a TIME OUT! so I could tuck in my slip properly.  During my time out, I learned a lot about myself.  I really AM a Nervous Nancy and my doctors made me realize that a 5′ 9″ woman in her early 30s should weigh more than 115 lbs. Watching the movie BLACK SWAN stirred up some serious self-image issues that I had been mashing down in my Pandora’s box of troubles.

I now have my own label and it doesn’t feel good.  I am an anorexic former ballerina who really needs to eat a sandwich.  I’m working with my super-fab team of doctors and mi familia now to get back to MY TRUE strong, West-Texan tumbleweed roots, cross bred with your live oak trees, NOLA.

After all, I’ve always been a little bit Texan AND a little bit New Orleanian.

I hope you can continue to take me as I am, ’cause I’m not ready to throw in the towel.

With love,

Kel :6

 Peace Be With You . . .

10 Things You Don’t Know About Me

As I have been writing my story, I have realized that I’m so much more than my diagnosis.  Yes, something bad happened and it changed the course of my life dramatically, but I am still someone who has hopes and dreams and experiences that aren’t related to bipolar disorder.  So, here is a list of 10 things that you don’t know about me.  You might be surprised by the life I have lived thus far…

1. I was born with 2 holes in my heart and a crimp in my aorta.  I had open heart surgery when I was 2 years old and for a long time my life was consumed with visits to cardiologists and taking antibiotics every time I go to the dentist.  I have a scar that looks like a big exclamation point in the middle of my chest.  It used to be an embarrassment, but it has become a badge of honor.

2. I was a ballet dancer for 20+ years.  I actually have 2 college degrees that are centered around dance and non-profit organizations.  I don’t look like a dancer anymore, due to my meds causing weight gain, but I even performed in Italy during graduate school.  It was quite an experience.

3. I grew up in a smallish town in Texas.  Football was/is king.  I am proud of being from Texas but I’m even prouder to be a New Orleanian.  Home is where you feel most comfortable.  Laissez les bon temps roules!

4. People who cross their eyes freak me out.  It makes me terribly uncomfortable.  I had a reoccurring nightmare when I was little about people changing into aliens when they cross their eyes.  Irrational, yes.  But, I still don’t like it.

5. I love the Muppets.  You know, Jim Henson’s Muppets.  They never fail to bring a smile to my face.  I think Miss Piggy is one of the most glamorous characters of all time.  Maybe someday I’ll be glamorous like her.

6. I once convinced 2 college guys I met on Spring Break that me and my bestie were from Russia.  We had them convinced the whole evening and laugh about it even now.  Boys can be dumb.  Babushka…

7. I think llamas are beautiful.  They have really luscious eye lashes, and who doesn’t appreciate nice eyelashes?

8. I really like to cook.  My husband and I cook extravagant meals together on a meager budget.  There is something awesome about mastering a bechamel  sauce on your first try.

9. I don’t like it when people touch me with their feet.  Not that a lot of people have touched me with their feet…my husband does this to me nightly and it makes me stabby.  Keep your feet away from me!

10. I have never ridden a motorcycle.  My dad was a spinal cord rehabilitation nurse and forbid me to ever ride on one.  The fear still lingers.  Sorry, REDdog!

So, I hope you learned something new about me.  Nothing that I have shared is too earth shattering, I just hope it gives you a little insight to who you are reading about.  My life hasn’t always been consumed with my diagnosis.  It’s just what I am currently dealing with.  Maybe someday, I’ll get back to a ballet class.  One can always hope.