Ramblings from the Psych Ward

I’m finishing up my second week working on a psych ward. Before I began I had spoken with my therapist and asked him if he had any recommendations. He asked me only to do one thing, “look at them as if they are real people with real issues. Remember that how they act makes sense, at least to them..” I’ve tried to do just that and in the process I’ve learned a few things about myself.

I’ve learned that it’s a very thin line between ‘normal’ and ‘crazy’. I’ve met people who still have dreams but life has thrown a bunch of garbage at them.

I’ve met a young man who, for no fault of his own, cannot stop moving his mouth. He has tardive dyskenesia along with some catelepsy. It’s not fair that he can’t use one of the drugs we’d like him to have because he’d have no way to pay for it out of the hospital.

There’s a lady who rather than embracing her upcoming retirement has decided that life just isn’t worth living, or at least bothering with. She barely eats, barely sleeps, and just lies in bed all day, despite being on several medicines that should be helping her by now. We keep hoping she’ll try ECT but so far she refuses. She doesn’t believe she is depressed, just that she’s a realist.

Another lady, who is so similar to myself that it scares me, is manic. She doesn’t remember the difficulty the police had bringing her in, nor the way she behaved in the ED. She doesn’t understand why she’s still being held ‘hostage’. When asked about it she has changed the story so much that it makes me wonder why she’s still there. The reality, though, is quite a bit different when you talk to those who met her that first day. Still, some of her story is true. She really has lived several places, really has suffered tragedy, really has had life turn upside down on her. I look at her and I see just how close I came to being there as a patient with her. Instead, though, I discovered ways to handle my stress, ways to grow my way out, and continue to grow. I have to remind myself that she is not me and does not have the skills I’ve learned, despite our similar circumstances.

The truth is all of these people could be you, or me, or someone we walk by. They are no different than we are, not special, not broken. They have just become overwhelmed and need someone to help guide them out of their own caves. Today, I nearly broke down in tears listening to a man who had to move back in with his mother because of an unexplained seizure that then turned his life upside down. He’s my age. I think how my parents would be if I lost my ability to take care of myself, and I think of how I would be if my own children found themselves in a similar place. I feel for them all.

And then, there is a man, who if he could only control his anger could provide such beauty to the world. He’s an artist who has covered his walls with drawings he’s done while waiting. He is also a gifted musician and can provide so much more to this world. Smart, well-kept, handsome, young, and strong… all the qualities a man his age would love to have. He’s there trying to explain to us that his problem is that he can’t sleep, that is the reason, he says, that he sees so many strange things. Visions when he closes his eyes, radio waves in the air, dots on our bodies… He believes there are aliens and he is worried there will be war because of them. He may be right, he might not; it’s not my place to say. There’s a lot of perfectly ‘normal’ people walking around who believe in aliens so that isn’t something worth arguing about.

So what do I say to myself? What do I think? I think it’d be best if when we talk to those who are in the ward that despite how crazy they sound, despite how far-fetched their stories may be, that we should give them the benefit of the doubt. So, yes, I choose to believe my patient when she says she swallowed a bunch of flexeril as well as oxycodone, mobic, and citalopram with vodka. I believe her when she says she doesn’t know why she started feeling suicidal, that it doesn’t make sense to her. I believe her when she says she really wants to live, despite being alive only because someone else found her. I believe her. And? If my patient says he believes in telepathy, why not? Who are we to say what another has experienced? We aren’t them. If they say they lived in Europe, or DC, or wherever, then who are we to say they didn’t?

These are good people, not liars, nor embellishers. They are telling us exactly what they think to be true. They are only being honest with no filters…. if everyone was as honest as these, we’d all be in the psych ward…

thank you for reading,

me

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Movie Night

It’s a Tuesday night and so I’m home alone. I’ve gotten used to not having the kids around all of the time. It isn’t always easy, though. I remember that first weekend when I didn’t get to keep them and they had to go to their dad’s. That was awful. My youngest was crying, hysterical, that she didn’t want to go. The other was okay with it but you could tell he didn’t like the way things were turning out. He kept thinking that he could somehow fix things. I think he still feels that way sometimes.

I often plan things now, when I know they won’t be home. Things with friends or out to the movies. Sometimes just staying home. Today I kept busy with school things and bills and planning my future. I even sent out an application for a job. About seven tonight I realized I needed to spend some time relaxing and take care of the me part of me. So I shut my computer and looked up a movie on Netflix.

I chose an older movie. I might have seen it before, but if I did I don’t remember. Life has a way of making things disappear. I pulled up Shawshank Redemption. Yup. What was I thinking? I was afraid to watch it lest I cry, or that it might be extraordinarily violent. I can’t stand violent films. And emotional films? Let’s just say, I will cry for anything. No matter. I sat down with my home-made chicken soup (I made it yesterday because I was scared I was getting the flu… was exposed rather well Monday morning…) So I sat down with my bowl of soup, some buttered toast and a glass of wine. The house was dark, no one home but me. Magnificent.

I sat there, watching the movie, finding a smile on my face or a tear in my eye. Just letting myself be however I might be. Hope? Yes, hope, sums up the entire movie. Never give up hope. Either get busy dying or get busy living. I guess I’ve gotten busy living, lately. I ain’t got time to die yet, there’s just too much left I want to do. From what I’ve heard, dying ain’t so bad once your dead. But, like I said, it’s time to live still and that’s my plan. No matter what you believe, if your heart’s still beating, you’ve got a reason to live.

What did I think of the movie? Definitely one worth watching, and I’m glad I did. I’d watch it again and I don’t say that often. There’s just too much to see and to read to bother repeating myself, but Shawshank Redemption? I’d do it again.

thank you for reading,

me

Geriatrics Rotation… A much better fit

I have to say, being in Pharmacy school is hard. Doing the studying, the exams, the science, the math… all of that is part of it. But the hardest part? All of the exams, math, and science are useless during rotations. When you see a new drug that came out you think it’s great! You’re like, it’s about time, let’s get some people well. And then, then you realize that your guy wouldn’t have qualified for the trial. He’s too old, too fat, too young, too sick… they only use mostly healthy individuals for trials… people who only have the one disease they are trying to fix, or no disease because they’re trying to prevent it.  This is true for all of the trials and has an effect on all patients differently.

Geriatrics… I’ve been working with a population of men (because they’re veterans) who are between the ages of 74 and 95. 95?! Wow. Do you expect to be able to live to 95? What a ride that will be! But, back to my patients. When they aren’t in their youthful ages anymore, when they are just trying to stay alive another day but still loving their lives… then the rules of the medicines doesn’t really apply. There are almost no trials in elderly people. No one has any idea how the medicines will act in their bodies. AND! every single one of them act differently. In one man, if he takes a statin he won’t be able to walk. In another, it has no effect on him. Another can’t take anything like aspirin or ibuprofen, but can take Tylenol. Another only needs 15 micrograms per week of warfarin and the one next to him uses 30 micrograms per week…

For these, and really for all of us, age is just a number and has no bearing on the amount of medicine a person needs. The most important factor on whether you live to 95 or 102 is how old you feel, not how old you are. Over the last few months I’ve met people who are older than me but technically a lesser age. And I’ve met those who are 95 and look, act and feel, like they’re just in their 50s and 60s.

I ask them what they do? What they did to get to where they are? One man told me, age 95, that I had to go to war. He said it doesn’t work unless I go to WWII and then Korea, and learn to jump out of airplanes for 30 years. I could have listened to him for hours. I had to ask him if his birthday was right, I just couldn’t believe he was 95.

So, yeah, I love geriatrics. Here I deal with people who have lived full lives, who have had their chance already to make mistakes and to make dreams come true, or not. I love listening to them and getting to know them. They are a treasure trove of information and advice. This community is growing exponentially and needs people who specialize in their medicines. The wrong drug could destroy an otherwise healthy individual, but the right one can help. I look forward to being done with school… only three more months!

thanks for reading,

me

Love. How Do I Protect Myself?

Love? Is that what it is? I’m not blind. I can see clearly. I can see your pain and it hurts me. I can see your fear and I become fearful. I pushed you away because I cannot handle it. Your fear, pain, and disappointment. Your hopelessness and your trauma. I can not be with you longer than a few minutes before you rub off on me. How can I help you to see the beauty and the miracles that surround us both? How can I help you to appreciate the small things in life? I don’t know how. Not yet. And so I distance myself. I am unable to handle so much negative emotion and so I leave you. Am I a failure for that? Am I wrong for leaving you in your hell so that I can climb out of mine?

As much as I hate my ex, I’m not blind to who he really is. All of my efforts to make things right, all of my efforts to fix the evils in that house were useless. I had to leave, he has to hit bottom before he will ever grow. We all do. I still see him as hurt and lost. I don’t think he sees it, though, and there’s nothing I can do about it. My time with him is over, he’s going to have to find someone else to help, or learn to help himself like I did.

I read. I read a lot. I read books on philosophy, on love, on dreams, and on money. I am in a constant state of learning, and because of this I am growing.

But it’s not just him, that I see. I see the stories behind the story. I see the angry old man and know that things were different when he was a child. I see the depressed woman and know that she once had dreams but now she’s given up on them all. I see the couple in debt who is afraid to dream for fear their dreams will never come true. I see the bedridden lady who refuses to become healthy because this is how she receives attention and she thinks if she weren’t ill that no one would love her. I see these. I also see the teen, who in her passion became pregnant. I know her fear and her embarrassment. I know what it’s like and how tragic life can become. I want to protect them all, I want to love them and to help them. But how? It hurts to allow their energy into my soul.

How can I protect myself from these? I isolate myself, pushing others away so that I can breathe. I run away to the water, to my boat, so that their energy does not reach me. Yet? As I take time to breathe, I cry. I let out my emotions so that they don’t control me. I let myself see God’s beauty in nature so that I can continue to see the beauty in those like these. For all are beautiful in their own way, yes all, even my ex. I love them and it hurts and so I take time for me.

thank you for reading,

me

Life On The Other side

I’m looking forward to what life will be like on the other side of this crazy ass divorce. A time where I have my own career and income. A time where I no longer even have to speak with him… two of the kids are still young so that may be a little while longer.

Once in a while I forget a little. I forget little things like having to defend myself or having to walk on egg shells… sometimes I even think, “Hey! Maybe he’s changed!”… Nope. He went and proved that he hasn’t all over again. “Thank you for the reminder!”

I feel sorry for his new girlfriend. She has no idea what she has in store for her! I almost want to warn her but I’ve learned enough already that wouldn’t help anyway. She has to do her own growing. I’ve done a bunch of growing, that’s for sure!

So what will life be like on the other side? I’m hoping for some peace, some bills paid, some fun traveling, and just general being around great people when I want to be around them. I’m hoping the kids grow up knowing they are loved by me and are worth more than anything else in this world to me. (Apparently not to him…)

What am I not looking forward to? My older two having to go through counseling because their father abandoned them. Sure, they haven’t been particularly forthcoming,  but they’re young. Just because you have a spat with your kids doesn’t mean you write them out of your will. Just saying. Just because they don’t worship you like the younger two doesn’t mean you don’t bother with birthday or Christmas presents or whatever…

I used to think he was a good father, despite everything. I know better now. But I do remember when I gave birth to our first child. I remember how he was so ecstatic that he couldn’t even count all of her toes and fingers. I remember how immeasurably happy he seemed to be. How has he forgotten? I don’t think he has forgotten, I think he just never realized they wouldn’t always worship him.

So now, again, I am reminded why I left and why I should never regret it. Today he decided to not have them as beneficiaries to his life insurance nor his investments. I say them, but really? He only wrote out two of his four children. Really? What an ass. I don’t care so much what he has to say to me or about me, but these are my kids (his kids). I don’t get it.

But I must say, thank you for the reminder. And thank you for proving to me, and to others, again, that I made the right decision to leave you. Thank you for providing further confirmation of the type of being you truly are. And, to your new friends and girlfriend, I’m sorry but it’s not my circus anymore. Have fun and enjoy the ride!

thank you for reading,

me

ps. and thank you for continuing to provide the court required health insurance for all of your children. They’re going to need that counseling after all.

2018 Here I Come

How is this year going to be different from all the previous ones so far?

I will make debt repayment automatic and concentrate on abundance instead. I have the capability to earn plenty of money and I can afford the things I need and want. My bills will be easily paid and my income will increase quickly.

I will be publishing my book and others will find happiness because of what I’ve written. Because of what I have already written, others will learn how they too can attain their freedom.

My children and I will be closer. We will have time together that will be precious and fun. They will love their learning and love their new home. I will be there for them and, now that I am graduated and working, I also provide well for them. Together we are learning how to make money grow and work for us more. Now money comes easily and frequently and we begin to wonder at the benefits of having time and money to play.

I can afford it. I have abundance. I have the ability now to share my income with others in need. Finally, I am able to pay forward what others have done for me.

We all remain healthy and happy. Our lifestyle now reflects the abundance of energy that we all have. We are active and helpful in our community and because of this we are developing incredible friendships. All of us are experiencing a life we never dreamed possible a short five years ago.

These are just some of the things this year will bring me. My house will be repaired, my boat will be improved. My body will gain strength and my heart will stay strong. I am writing this now so that the world may know that I am here. I am ready for this time, I am ready to excel, to have increase. I am ready to show love and abundance to all around me. I am ready.

thank you for reading,

me

 

Morning Thoughts…

Almost Christmas… My tree is small, my bank account is empty, and I can see the back of my cupboard and freezer… money will come soon but it’s definitely tight right now. I wonder why I put myself here and realize I really didn’t. Life has been difficult for the past several years. The ex has been slow on everything. When I moved out he refused to pay child support (and the mortgage) for three months, so credit cards went crazy high… Then with the kids relying on me for everything (and my inability to say no yet) what money I did have went to them and their lives… No one knew how tight things were and no one understood why I would say no sometimes. I can’t blame them, though. I didn’t tell anyone I was out of money. I didn’t tell anyone that I couldn’t afford to pay for their gas, or their dining out… I paid for the wedding that wasn’t meant to be and now I am stuck with more bills than I can pay.

Now what? I wait. I wait for more student loans to come in, I wait for graduation, and I wait for a job. I remind myself that this time is limited. One day, one day soon, I will be able to pay all of my bills. I will be able to say yes to my kids without worrying. I will be able to live my life on my terms. I look forward to those days.

In the meantime? I still live. I make the most of what we do have. I remember we are extremely well off. We have a roof over our heads, heat, clothes, cars and pets. We are all in good health and are happy. Sure, it would be nice to be able to answer the phone (the bill collectors are beginning to get angry). It would be nice to go out to eat whenever we want. It sure would have been nice to have a big tree this Christmas. My younger two kids just couldn’t quite understand why we had to stay small. That was hard. But, we are all learning. We are learning that things are just things and that it’s OK to eat leftovers and to eat at home. We are learning that the house looks better when we stay home.

I could get upset, and sometimes I do. But I remind myself of the good things and that this life is mine. I remind myself that I don’t mind going home any longer. I remind myself that I have made it the sanctuary that I had only dreamed of. I remind myself that our lives are so much better, happier, safer, than they were a short three years ago. Yes, being broke is hard, annoying, especially around Christmas; but it’s worth it.

thank you for reading,

me