Update on my life

For y’all who are curious as to how I am doing. In a word, excellent:

I am feeling remarkably cheerful at the moment, better than I have in a long time. I’m making great progress in my psychotherapy and have had a few heart-to-heart talks with my dad, saying things that I ought to have said a long time ago. I’ve stopped brooding so much over problems I’ve had in the past and bad things that have happened to me. I’m learning more social skills. Michael and I are getting along well. And my head almost never hurts anymore, which is worth as much as all the aforementioned things put together. I don’t know if the Cleveland Clinic worked some kind of magic and cured me (which they said they could not do) or whether the headache just ran out of gas or what. I don’t even care, as long as it stays gone.

I don’t feel depressed at all anymore. I think it’s mostly the medication, especially the Depakote I started taking in June. I turned out I have a mild form of bipolar which had been undiagnosed for years. The result was that every week or two, for a few hours or a few days, I’d plunge into suicidal despair for no apparent reason (sometimes I’d just burst out screaming and crying in public, saying I wanted to die, unable to stop myself; it was very embarrassing), then come out of it just as inexplicably, and then go around talking too fast and being way too enthusiastic about random things and generally creeping people out. I had just tried to deal with it and figured it was depression, or maybe just part of my personality. But then I started taking the Depakote and, almost instantly, all that went away. I’m so glad. The mood swings were exhausting to me and my loved ones. Michael said he never knew what person I would be when he came home from work at night. I still take two anti-depressants though, cause depression has always been my primary problem. That’s why I say I have “depression/bipolar.”

I’ve been reading less, only about half as much as last year. This bothers me a bit, since there are so many good books out there that I want to finish. (Number of books on current to-read list: 697.) But I think it’s actually a sign of progress. The primary reason for my reading so much was to distract myself from severe pain, depression or personal problems. I’d leap frantically from book to book to book to book as if they were boulders above a terrible lethal rapids I was trying to cross. Now, I don’t read as much because I don’t need to distract myself anymore. I have fewer problems and have developed better coping skills.

I’ve also just started my college classes again, chasing after that ever-elusive degree, after giving my studies a break for almost a year due to my health problems. This makes Michael and my parents happy.

15 thoughts on “Update on my life

  1. Matagot March 29, 2012 / 3:00 am

    I’ve heard that forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could be any different. I still haven’t reached that point with a parent.

    I’m glad you are feeling better, and kudos to you for maintaining this excellent and informative site.

  2. Melissa March 29, 2012 / 4:51 am

    Great to hear! You sound so upbeat – but not too upbeat . Bipolar is tricky to diagnose, so it’s great you’ve got some clarity of diagnosis, and a treatment regime that seems to be working. It’s all lookin’ good .

    Keep up the great work.

    • Meaghan March 29, 2012 / 6:22 pm

      Yeah, I was never one of those who had manic episodes where I started spending gazillions of dollars and thinking I was invincible and stuff. I had milder episodes, what they call hypomania. But they weren’t the problem — the crashes into depression were.

      Around the time I started taking Depakote, I filled up the notebook I’d been writing my diary in and had to start another. Flipping through the old notebook I noticed that, come to think of it, there were quite a lot of times where I’d write entries saying “I feel so happy today” followed, the next day, with an entry saying “I wish I was dead.” Or I’d write, “I felt really happy today, then suddenly I felt really sad and cried for no reason. I don’t know why.”

      I’m glad I have a psychiatrist I can work with who understands me. Like, after the rape, when I finally did break down (and it took awhile, at first I was kind of numb and had no reaction at all), I was really acting crazy: throwing things, saying I wanted to kill myself, and I was so angry all the time that I was afraid I was going to lash out and hurt some random person. Many people would have had me hospitalized. Certainly I needed some intervention and I admitted it myself. But I wasn’t really “sick” per se, just very stressed and understandably so, and I was cooperative and I said that no matter how bad I felt I wouldn’t REALLY kill myself because if I did that, I would never get to testify against the man who hurt me and he would never be punished for what he did to me. The rapist would win and I was determined not to let that happen. So instead of putting me in a hospital, Dr. Bruno sent me off to a kind of halfway house/group home that was like a hotel, it just happened to be full of crazy people. There were only like two or three staff, we weren’t watched constantly, it wasn’t a locked facility and I was allowed to have my cell phone to call my friends. For almost a week I sat in that place and did nothing but read and play games on my computer and sleep (mostly sleep, like 18 hours a day, seriously). Then, after I got out, I spent the weekend at my parents’ lake house with them so they could watch me and see if I started going berserk again. Then I returned to my life and work and stuff. This all was exactly what I needed: it gave me time to process what had happened and calm myself down in a totally stress free environment. It was a very sensible decision — one many doctors would not have been brave enough to make. Many would have just locked me up to CYA.

      • Melissa March 30, 2012 / 6:38 am

        He sounds fantastic. And you sound like you’ve been working on your stuff so hard. Glad it’s all working out!

        Do you think your blog makes any difference to how you are feeling or coping? Going back through it, do you notice any patterns, like you did in your diary?

      • Meaghan March 31, 2012 / 4:10 pm

        I don’t think so, but then I haven’t been looking for them. Once when I misplaced my diary, I found myself writing diary entries (like personal stuff) on my blog instead, which wasn’t such a good idea. I ought to go back and see if my blog entries changed according to my mood, or not. Someone said they could see a difference since I came back from Cleveland with headaches much improved.

  3. Justin March 29, 2012 / 5:22 am

    Glad to hear you are doing better. You deserve to be happy and enjoying life.

  4. Onelda March 29, 2012 / 7:18 am

    No one deserves health and happiness more than you, my dear. I am so glad you are flourishing. I lost my dad a couple years ago, and thankfully we reached understanding before that happened. A lot of the understanding was, understanding we were a lot alike. Enjoy this wonderful part of your life.

  5. Robin-NH March 29, 2012 / 9:02 pm

    I am very happy to hear that you are feeling better! Your psychiatrist is clearly a very empathetic and sensible human being, (the collective “we” is in need of more of them)..

    • Meaghan March 29, 2012 / 9:23 pm

      We actually didn’t get along too well at first, when I met him in July 2007. I was admitted to the hospital, basically having a nervous breakdown, desperately suicidal, etc. And the first thing he did was TAKE MY BOOKS AWAY. The first thing the staff did when I arrived was take all my stuff. When I met with Dr. Bruno I begged for the books back and he said “You can only have one at a time.” (I brought a bag of like a dozen.) It seemed to me at the time that he had figured out what was the most important thing to me and he was taking that away just to show me who was boss, or whatever. But that was a misunderstanding. He was actually concerned that during my hospital time I would just sit in my room and read all the time instead of going to all the group therapy sessions and stuff.

      We gradually warmed up to each other, but it took me awhile to trust him completely. I was kind of wary of him because I knew the kind of power he had over me — in Ohio, a psychiatrist can lock a person up for 72 hours on a whim. All they’ve got to say is that they think the person is a danger to themselves or other people, and then suddenly you find yourself locked up and with less rights than death row prisoners. And it’s possible, in theory, for the doctor to keep you confined for much longer, if they can convince a court it’s necessary. It’s a scary thought.

      Ironically, what finally made me fully trust Dr. Bruno was when he actually yelled at me. I had to be hospitalized a couple of times, because they would give me an anti-depressant medicine and it would work for awhile and then suddenly quit working and I would become suicidal again. Anyway, the second time I was hospitalized, a week after I was released, in my follow-up appointment, I told Dr. Bruno that the staff member who admitted me had treated me very badly and frightened me unnecessarily and actually pushed me because I didn’t walk upstairs to the ward fast enough to suit her (she basically broke every rule they had about how to treat patients during admission) and this was why throughout my stay, I had been extremely anxious and started hyperventilating if anyone tried to touch me or came anywhere near me, and had repeatedly begged to be released and basically lied claiming I felt perfectly cheerful and not depressed at all when the staff could tell this was obviously not true, and had been generally irritable and uncooperative the entire time, etc.

      So I told him this and he yelled, “Why didn’t you tell me about this before?” Surprised at his reaction, I looked at the floor and mumbled something about how he couldn’t have done anything about it and he was like, “NOW I can’t do anything, it’s too late. You need to TELL ME these things.” And I realized he was actually really angry about how I had been treated, and if I had told him at the time it happened, he would have thrown a fit and gotten that woman in trouble and probably made her apologize to me personally or something. (In fact, I hadn’t told him before because I figured he wouldn’t care. I thought nobody would care about what happened and I might get in trouble if I spoke up or something. I also felt profoundly embarrassed about it. I wasn’t thinking right, partly because I was so traumatized by the whole thing but mostly because I was depressed.) For weeks afterwards I couldn’t think about the admissions experience without feeling kind of sick. But I told my mom what happened, before I told Dr. Bruno, and at her urging I met with the director of the hospital psychiatric department and told her what happened and basically filed an official complaint, and the director was horrified and disciplined the admissions lady appropriately.

  6. amy March 29, 2012 / 11:57 pm

    I am so happy for you and proud of you. I have battled depression every day of my life. When I see someone “fly” and go forward, it is like seeing a rainbow!

  7. Lindsay March 30, 2012 / 4:28 pm

    I am very happy for you!! Things are getting better. I hope things keep going in the right direction. You’re an awesome person and do such an awesome job with this site. We all appreciate your dedication and hard work.

  8. Amy White March 30, 2012 / 10:03 pm

    I am so happy for you!

  9. Lisa March 31, 2012 / 12:37 am

    So happy for you Meaghan!

  10. Zed April 6, 2012 / 12:17 pm

    I’m really happy to hear all that, especially that the headache has vanished. I hope it stays away.

    What degree is it you’re getting anyway?

    Sorry about the lack of recent communication. It’s impossible for me to use the Internet for any substantial amount of time during the week without incurring severe misery and I don’t have access to it most weekends either. (Today’s a public holiday.) But I’ve taken to catching up with this blog during my lunch-ten-minutes at work. I can’t comment, because I can’t type and eat simultaneously, but I can read and – though “enjoy” is probably the wrong word most of the time – I certainly do so with interest. Keep it coming.

    • Meaghan April 6, 2012 / 6:23 pm

      It’s a BA in history.

      I figured you were still around somewhere. No worries.

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