All I Want for Christmas

The medication roller coaster has begun again. First, I must note that the behavioral health system in this country is still failing me. I still haven’t gotten in to see a psychiatrist as every time I call to see if there are any available walk-in appointments for the next day, they’re all somehow taken. How can a walk-in appointment be scheduled you ask? Yeah, I don’t know. I haven’t gotten a satisfactory answer on that yet.

So, in order to get back on medication before next summer, I got the prescription for the last medication I was on and asked my current doctor to prescribe it for me. He was kind enough to do it for me until I can get in with a psychiatrist.

Mirapex – actually a medication for Restless Leg Syndrome and Parkinson’s, researchers found that this dopamine agonist actually works by affecting motivation and has potential for treatment resistant, rapid-cycling bipolar disorder. *raising hand vigorously* Hey! That’s me! A couple of years ago when I first took this medication, I experienced some real success with it. I’m really hoping that it will work for me again. For now, all it’s doing is throwing side effects at me without helping at all. But it’s early days. I’m extra tired in the morning, extra tired in the evening, and low energy all day. Sounds like the opposite of the goal right? Yeah, I’m really hoping this side effect clears up sooner rather than later.

Here’s hoping, it will clear up in time for Christmas. That might be too optimistic. In the meantime, I’m trying not to forget anything I’m supposed to be doing to prepare for our trip next week. Do you have any flying across the country must-haves or must-dos?

Refuge

We have a little bird taking refuge outside our front door. Every time we open the front door we find it tucked into a corner and it flies off. Erik put a little box out front to help it weather the freezing cold night. I’m wondering why this bird hasn’t flown south for the winter or if the winter is unseasonably cold here in Tucson and the little bird just wasn’t prepared.

When I was a kid I used to create nests in my closet. When I was in trouble, sad, angry, or scared I woud crawl into my closet with a book or a journal and a flashlight. When I moved out on my own and had my own spaces, this seemed unnecessary, but when I moved in with Erik I sought out closet nests again. For comfort.

And now there are many things in which I find comfort, a hot drink, sitting under a blanket made by someone who loves me, cuddling up next to my warm and wonderful husband.

Where do you hunker down when your world is unexpectedly cold and dark?

A smile for your day. The post office kitty.

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Party and an Argument with my Kitchen

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This is the second mess from Saturday morning. I was making a chocolate drizzle for cookies and wanted to cut the corner on a ziploc bag and use it to drizzle the chocolate over the cookies. So, I poured the steaming hot chocolate into the ziploc bag, melting the bag and getting chocolate all over the stove that I spent three hours cleaning on Thursday. A half hour before the party started.

An hour earlier I ruined a batch of gluehwein because I sat down to rest for a few minutes. The sugar water turned into sugar candy and I had to start over. Things like this never fail to happen when we try to have parties. I don’t know why I do this to myself. The Christmas party was my idea.

The party itself was a success. We did this:

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A Christmas coloring tablecloth. It was a perfect diversion for when conversation lulled. The (second batch of) gluehwein was a hit and there was so much food. The party started at 1pm and the last guests walked out the door around 5:30pm.

As soon as we closed the door behind them, Erik and I collapsed on the couch. We are not party people. We go to parties of people we love and generally avoid parties of acquaintances. I can’t remember the last time we stayed out past 10pm and we’re not big drinkers. We find parties exhausting. Why on earth did we think it was a good idea to host our own?

Well, we like our friends. That has to be it.

P.S. CODAC still hasn’t called me back to say I can come in to see a doctor. I’ve called them three times since the initial call on Monday.

Here We Go Again

I know I occasionally rant about the state of mental health care in the U.S. And I know that to a certain extent, I’m preaching to the choir. But this is a blog about mental illness, about mental health. And I would be remiss if I didn’t continue to bang the drum about mental health care in this country.

Five months ago Erik and I moved to Tucson, Arizona. And because I hate change and new doctors and making phone calls, I haven’t found a new psychiatrist yet. I detailed here the experience I had with one therapist here in Tucson. In addition to this ridiculous experience, I’ve also had a maddening experience trying to see doctor’s for other reasons.

Several months ago I had a ridiculous time trying to find an eye doctor who actually knew what they were talking about. It wasn’t until I saw doctor NUBMER FIVE that I received a correct diagnosis of shingles of the eye (which *I* knew I had). When I sprained my ankle a few weeks after moving to Tucson, there was not a single doctor in town (who took my insurance) that could see me inside of three months. I spent three hours at urgent care instead. When I wanted to get set up with a new primary doctor and get a check up, there wasn’t a single doctor in town (who took my insurance) that could see me inside of six months.

Which leads me to this week, where on Monday I finally looked up the list of insurance-approved doctors and started making phone calls. The first four doctor’s offices I called, no one answered the phone. The next three doctor’s offices I called couldn’t see me until JULY. Each of those doctor’s offices gave me the name of another doctor’s office to try, but now I was off my insurance-approved list and when I called them not one of them took my insurance. One of the offices that I called had just gotten a new phone system (noted by a message at the beginning of the automated menu) and suggested to let them know if I had any problems. When I pressed 2 as directed, the message restarted; when I pressed 1 for current patients, the line went dead; when I pressed 3 for a program coordinator, I finally got someone’s voicemail; and unbelievably, when I pressed 0 for the receptionist, I was directed toa menu that allowed me to listen to their messages! It was unbelievably frustrating and not the kind of thing you want to put a mentally ill person through.

Finally, I found a large outfit called CODAC. I called them and got hung up on TWICE before (third time’s the charm) finally getting through a whole conversation. At the end of which they told me I couldn’t make an appointment because they would have to verify my insurance and then call me back in 2-5 days to tell me I can come in on a walk-in basis to see a psychiatrist. That was Monday. It’s Wednesday. No word yet, but I guess two days was the minimum it would take.

I am seeking a psychiatrist because after too many months of being off medication, I am feeling unbalanced. If I hadn’t been feeling unbalanced before, after this ordeal trying to find a new doctor, I definitely am now. And also sad and frustrated and to a certain extent, hopeless. These are the kinds of things that push people over the edge. These are the kinds of things take people from seeking help to crisis. It may not seem like a big deal. It may not seem like it’s worth getting upset about, but when your depressed or angry or hallucinating or fighting your inner demons anything can send you over the edge. Especially if you don’t have a support system in place. I am lucky and blessed. I have a wonderfully supportive husband who will take over and find me a doctor if I need him to. But not everyone has that.

We have to do better.

Run Away Day

Dudes, this day took some speed and ran away from me. I started thist post last night and therefore there is absolutely no excuse for not posting until now. I keep trying to tackle the list below, but every time I start one thing I get distracted by ten other things. I’ve made a little bit of progress everywhere, but no major progress anywhere. I just decided to give up and sit down for the first time today. Here’s what I had for you yesterday.

Yesterday was rough. It started out okay, with picking up the dogs and getting them settled at home where they proceeded to sleep all day long. (I kept checking on them because they were so quiet I forgot where they were).

And then I started to think about what needs to happen this week. We’re having a Christmas party on Saturday (I can’t believe this was my idea) and there are a few things that need to happen between now and then.

  1. The house needs to be clean. i.e. the roaming tumbleweeds of dog hair need to be brought under control, yarn and knitting needs to be contained to one preferably hidden area, and the random boxes that are still littered about our living area need to be put away (not unpacked, just disappeared).
  2. I need to come up with a (small) menu of base items to supplement whatever potluck items everyone else brings.
  3. I need to go to the grocery store to get the ingredients for whatever is on said menu.
  4. I need to come up something to do at said party besides standing around and eating food. Erik and I have an aversion to the standard white elephant party so we’ve opted out of that one. But seeing as how that’s really the only activity either one of us have done at a holiday party, we’re (and when I say we, I mean me) having trouble coming up with an alternative. It has been suggested to use that we could have a rock, paper, scissors tournament or a bouncing a ball on a tennis racket contest. But I’m not particularly excited about either of those options and also, they’re not very Christmas-ey.
  5. I need to wrap the gifts I have for the attendees. I need to locate several small boxes for said gifts and also find the tape.
  6. Cooking and baking must also occur before Saturday, but preferably not before Friday, which is an off Friday, so cooking and baking will be moved to Thursday so Friday can be spent with my beloved.
  7. Really, cleaning is the most important thing. There is a significant dearth of cabinets, closets, and drawers in this house and so piles of things have developed in pretty much every room. Also, our couch came with an abnormal number of throw pillows and now there is a leaning tower of them sitting in the corner of the living room so they don’t get in the way. They will need to be relocated. I’ll need to be careful that I actually clean rather than simply moving things around so it looks like I did something…

Also, I keep trying to “clean up” my knitting, only to have it explode all over the couch again as soon as I sit down next to it. It’s a problem. Please tell my husband I tried.

I don’t think the dog hair tumbleweeds will be brought under control. They are creating little hairball dogs and running in packs. They like to congregate under the living room table.

The dogs themselves are still very sleepy. I am also very sleepy. I will endeavor to do better tomorrow. Send energizing thoughts.

Sleep

Let’s pretend for a second that this picture wasn’t taken in my living room on Sunday evening after we had returned from Albuquerque. And that it means, once again, I failed to take a single picture the entire time we were away.

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And no, I don’t have a picture of Erik’s ugly sweater. We got some misinformation and it wasn’t so much an ugly sweater Christmas party as it was just a Christmas party, and Erik wasn’t allowed to change out of his uniform. I wore mine anyway. It makes me smile.

We had a lovely trip, visiting with friends, celebrating the holiday, and above all, eating. I’m pretty sure all I did on Saturday was eat. I woke up at the hotel and ate breakfast and then met friends for lunch, went to the holiday concert, and then went to dinner with some other friends.

Have I mentioned that every time we go back to Albuquerque we have trouble sleeping? We usually stay on base because it’s free, but the hotels on base are all former dormitories. Each room has two rooms connected by the bathroom, which is awkward. You have to walk through the bathroom to get from the bedroom to the living area. The beds are all old and very uncomfortable. But worst of all the walls are all incredibly thin to the point where you can hear people snoring and televisions no matter what level the volume. We’ve stayed at friends’ houses a few times, but have found that it takes more than two nights to get used to the sounds of somebody else’s house and we usually don’t sleep well there either. So this time, we decided enough was enough. We got a room at the Sheraton in the center of town and it was lovely. Room service, seventh floor views, comfy beds, luggage carts, noon check out. We’re not picky, just partial to sleep. It still wasn’t a perfect nights sleep; it was still a hotel room away from our comfy bed. But it was better than any of the other sleeps we’ve had when visiting since we’ve moved away.

I haven’t been sleeping well these days anyway. I’ve been so stressed out over the last couple of weeks that I keep waking up in the middle of the night panicking. I’ll wake up with one thought in my head and then I won’t be able to stop thinking about it. How do you stop your anxiety when it happens in the middle of the night and wakes you up? It’s totally cheating.

We’re not the only ones who came home tired from the weekend.

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She walked in the door and laid down. She hasn’t moved since. I guess a strange kennel with dozens of dogs barking all night long can’t be very restful. I wonder if they slept at all.

“Early” mornings & Happy Friday

We’re headed out for the weekend to visit friends and so Erik can attend drill. The dogs are off to the kennel and as soon as Erik gets home from work (any minute now), we’ll be loading up the car and dashing off to Albuquerque. There’s a lovely bruncheon tomorrow with some of my favorite people, followed by a holiday concert. Sunday I’ve heard news of an ugly Christmas sweater party and I have just the thing. I will endeavor to remember my camera and to use it.

I’m going to sound spoiled rotten for just a second – I hate getting up before 9am. For the obvious reasons, I like sleep. And for less obvious reasons, whenever I get up before 9am, even if it’s only 8 or 8:30 am (as it was today), I wake up feeling sick. This morning I woke up at 8:15am and immediately started to feel nauseated and light headed. I continued about my day (whilst feeling sick), dropped off the dogs, went to the grocery to grab a few things for the trip, and at the store I barely made it to the bathroom before throwing up. I felt incrimentally better, finished my trip came home and now I’m here, sipping gingerale on the couch writing to you. I still feel queasy and I’m not sure about eating anything. But I know I’m not really sick. It’s just my body’s very odd reaction to waking up before my normal appointed time. I’ll feel better in a few hours. Does this type of thing happen to anyone else?

I’ll be knitting Christmas ornaments like mad all weekend (there’s a plan and a deadline for them) and I threw yarn for some bootees and perhaps a hat in there for my new little cousin William.

Happy Friday everyone!