This Was Bad

It happened again.  We saw it coming and had no way to stop it.  How have we not learned how to curb Son when he goes manic.  This time was so frightening.  I’m not sure he’s going to fully recover.  I think it’s because of his benzodiazepine addiction of a few years ago.  Which he still has, apparently.

Things had been going so well.  The four of us were getting along better than we had been in years.  I was getting out and doing my own thing and feeling good.  I should’ve known it wouldn’t last.  Damn that optimism!  Son had been in a great mood for weeks, his business was doing very well.  He’d started some cannabis seeds and his plants were looking good.  He was staying up late; 2 and 3 AM.  But he didn’t seem bothered by it.   This went on for three days or so.   Then on Wednesday he started acting odd.  Muttering, shuffling, off balance.  Mostly confused.

This we recognize and we do as we had agreed, that if Son started acting drunk or sleep walking we were to give him an extra 1/2 dose of Seraquil.  He stayed up very late and was agitated, bumping into things, dropping things.  We sat and talked for a while, but he was pretty incoherent.  He asked the same questions: what’s going on, I don’t understand what’s happening,  why is this happening.  Then he’d ask what day it was or what time.  He was always surprised by my answer.  He began to hallucinate.  I started to record him, but had to put the camera down while I cleaned up the mess he made urinating in the middle of his room.  By then he was calmer and sat down on the couch, where he finally fell asleep.  I went to bed about 4 AM.

Next morning he seems better.  He gets up, talks with his dad and has some coffee.  But later in the day he started acting weird again.  Still, he wasn’t as bad as the previous day, so maybe he was still getting better.  But that’s not how it played out and we spent Friday night in the ER.  He admitted himself and I went home.  Husband is picking him up as I write.  Don’t know what good it did for him to just stay the night.

Still, I spoke with his caseworker and she was probably the most helpful one by far.  It’s been a different person every time he’s been in hospital.  She told me she didn’t any reason Son wouldn’t qualify for disability.   She told me to call my local SS office.  They’ll send paperwork which Son takes to his doctor.  We have an appointment with a psychologist in two weeks.  We make an appointment with the SS office and meet with their counselor.  Then in about two months he should have an answer.

I’d never heard of this, but the caseworker said she’d been doing this for 10 years and she’s rarely heard of anyone in Son’s condition be denied disability benefits.  I hate the idea of him being permanently disabled, but if he had these benefits, he wouldn’t have to work so hard out of our living room.  Plus he would then qualify for Medicare, which is much better coverage than Medi-Cal.  That’s the most important thing.

I was so angry when I tried again, in vain, to find help.   All I got was recorded messages telling me to call another number.  I called a dozen phone numbers for an hour and in the end had no where to go but the ER.  Where I had to sit and keep him calm for 6 hours, because you know they won’t give you any drugs until all the tests come back and you see the doc.  Once Son was medically cleared he finally was seen by a caseworker.

Son kept asking us if he took something or if we gave him something.  He also asked what we found in his room.  Did we take something from his room.  So we checked out his room.  A small bottle of a type Benzo in powder form.  He and his dad just came back and I told him we found it.  Now he is angry and wants it back.  He wants people to leave him be, that he’s better when he’s on them.

It’s going to be a long, long two weeks before he meets with the psychologist.  Maybe I can get him into the psychiatrist sooner.

Sometimes life just fucks you.

 

I’ve Been Thinking

I met with a number of anti-Trump people last week.  So nice to meet everyone and discuss rationally how we can work together toward a common goal.  We talked about phone calls, email and letters to our local Democratic reps.  One woman mentioned maybe we should call and write to the Opposition.  I thought it was a great idea. One way to change something is by force, which we are attempting by large protests.  We put enough pressure on our ‘own’ reps and they in turn put pressure on Congress.  That was the strategy in the ’60s and it worked then, but took a long time.

But we don’t really need to convince the convinced, do we?  Why are protesters not confronting the Opposition.  That is who we must convince.  Now.  I’m assuming this is the harder course, since it would involve far more diplomatic skill than most of us have, and we see just how long that might take.  But we need to invest that time and effort to convince our elected representatives on both sides that ALL of America is not fine with the new administration our elected representatives put into office.

My husband had the idea that we might petition the Supreme Court to intervene in their capacity as the holders of the Constitution.  Do they have that kind of power?  Can they arrest Dump?  Can they charge him with crimes against the Constitution and the US?   I did find the short answer which was essentially yes, but it would be difficult and messy. If anyone has information on whether this can be, or should be, done, please let me know.

 

Cynicism

The state of mental health care in the US is atrocious.  Not as bad as when it was thought the ill were possessed by demons, and people were kept chained and naked in dank cells.  It hasn’t improved enough. People still treat mental illness as a personality flaw, something we could change if we only tried.  It is something many medical doctors, and ER staff do not recognize.

Most public hospitals prior to 1900 were operated by religious orders, and evolved from Almshouses.  As so many other things, hospitals were often as squalid as the Almshouse.   With time, hospitals became less of a place where paupers died and more of a place of improving one’s condition.  As more of those with funds chose to go to hospital, more changes were made.  Eventually public hospitals were cleaned up and money for improvements and new buildings became available.  Now, the people who would like to donate don’t have the money, and those with money don’t care.

When psychoactive drugs were introduced in the US in 1955, their use lead to increased discharges from mental hospi­tals. Over the next 50 years there was a dramatic decline in hospital beds from 560,000 in 315 hospitals to 53,000 beds in 230 hospitals.  Certainly doesn’t sound like much.  Currently, according to the Mental Health America, the prevalence of untreated adults with mental illness ranges from 43.1% in Vermont to 67.5% in Nevada.  That’s awful!  Mental illness can be as deadly as cancer.  Those with AMI (A Mental Illness) deserve better.

I discovered that the largest mental health facility in the country is in Los Angeles and is part of the county jail.  The article: Inside The Nation’s Largest Mental Institution (heard on Morning Edition, on NPR August 13, 20083:09 PM ET, by ) wrote, in part:

           The largest mental institution in the country is actually a wing of a county jail. Known as Twin Towers, because of the design, the facility houses 1,400 mentally ill patients in one of its two identical hulking structures in downtown Los Angeles.

The End Of Public Mental Hospitals

Until the 1970s, the mentally ill were usually treated in public psychiatric hospitals, more commonly known as insane asylums.

Then, a social movement aimed at freeing patients from big, overcrowded and often squalid state hospitals succeeded. Rather than leading to quality treatment in small, community settings, however, it often resulted in no treatment at all.

As a consequence, thousands of mentally ill ended up on the streets, where they became involved in criminal activity. Their crimes, though frequently minor, led them in droves to jails such as Twin Towers, says Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca.

 

 

And yet, we do incarcerate the mentally ill.  All the time.  Because there seems to be no where else to place them.  It’s awful when the police become involved.  At a minimum the person with AMI will be dragged to the ground and handcuffed as if they had committed a crime before they are dropped in some overcrowded, understaffed county hospital.  There they will receive minimal care and a quick discharge.  In the worst case scenario someone with AMI can end up dead simply because they do not understand what the police are telling him to do.  Like drop a weapon, or to lie on the ground.  Just google “mentally ill man killed by police” and you will find hundreds of incidents.

Most insurance plans do not provide adequate coverage for mental health, as if it is less important than someone’s physical health.  There are limits to the number of doctor visits, hospital stays are too short.  How does the insurance company know if you are healthy enough to leave after just 2 weeks?  It must be up to the doctors to determine when a patient is well enough to leave.  And what about someone who will spend their life institutionalized?  I’m sure most insurance plans do not have that covered.  There are not enough doctors and nurses.  There is just not enough.

My cynical side tells me that the only way we can make changes is with money.   Sure, there’s legislation, but that does not help people who cannot find a facility that will admit them.  There just aren’t enough beds.  That must change!  More mental health facilities need to be built.  MDs and hospital staff need to be made aware of symptoms of a mental health emergency.  Mental Health America is important to the improvement in mental health care and education.  Please support their #b4stage4 campaign on Facebook and Twitter, and take the pledge now to help make mental illness stigma free.

 

Sometimes You Shouldn’t Call 911

I’ve decided, after this most recent, for lack of a better word, psychotic episode it is not always best to call 911 or go to the ER.  But then what do you do?

The last time we had to call 911 and the cops came, they treated son with no respect, as if he had robbed a bank or deserved what was happening to him.  That time they took his (full rx) meds and his (brand new) shoes with them.  The meds and shoes did not return with Son.

This time I called 911 both the paramedics and the cops showed up.  The medics came, looked Son over and left.  Three 6′ cops surround Son, agitating him further.  They told us we were agitating him and pushed husband and I from the room.  They practically searched his room, picking things up, reading mail.  And once the cops are there: you have no control over the situation.

I felt a twinge of how it must feel to be a person of color when they interact with the police.  Only a tiny taste, but it struck me how the police do that.  Push everyone out, take control and then haul your son away like a criminal, leaving bruises on his arms, scraped skin around his wrists and a badly pulled tendon in  his shoulder.  Which is almost no injury at all, but they don’t care that they injure you this mildly, let alone shoot you.

The cops DO NOT know how to handle people with anything nearing empathy or compassion.  It appears that they are not trained in diffusing or de-escalating a situation, especially in the case of an addict or mental health patient.  In our particular situation I now know that Son needed to calm down, instead we ended up working him into a frenzy of frustration and anger.  By the time the cops arrived, he looked positively crazed.  I’ll never forget the look he gave me when the police took him away.  I’ll never forgive myself for causing him that kind of pain.

So I ask you, why would I call 911 the next time?  I mean, fool me twice, but then who should I call?  I discovered, too late, that my county has a service that will send out a social worker team that will come to your home and assess the situation, and work with the family to alleviate the crisis.  Many times avoiding police involvement or trips to the hospital.  This is a fabulous service, and one I did not know existed. Their number is in my phone now, on speed-dial.  I urge everyone to see if they have this type of service where you live.

I make one suggestion to the 911 system, add another question; “Police, Fire department or mental health emergency.”  I think that would be a huge huge help to people who find themselves in similar situations.  The service could even pair up a social worker with a police officer, specially trained where his first impulse is NOT to shoot.

Rather than make this post too long, I won’t write about ER staff and their treatment of mental health patients.  Suffice to say they are not much better than the cops.  Again, having a psychiatrist on staff at all times and the staff trained to at least recognize someone who is obviously in a crazed state would go far in alleviating the problem.  Those of us with mental health issues , when in crisis, should be treated with as much urgency as a heart attack.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services: (SAMHSA), a federal source of information and help for those in need of mental health or addiction issues.

National Association for Mental Illness: (NAMI)

 

Well, That Didn’t Go Well (update)

Came home from dinner Monday night to find son sitting on the couch snoring.  Just like he does when he drinks.  We said nothing and went to bed.  He woke me at 2AM with the worst migraine.  Took him to the ER.  Sat with him for 4 hours while they gave him benadryl, compazine, and toridol.

He was in a rage on Tuesday.  I slept most of the day, not having had much sleep the night before.  He was still angry today.  Stupidly, I decided this would be the day I would give him a letter explaining how his addiction effects us and how much we want to trust him.  How much we want to help him.  Just how much we want our “old T” back.

My letter did not go over well.  We spent 1 1/2 hours yelling at each other.  Mostly Son doing the yelling.  That stupid letter I never should’ve given him.  He’s left just now, says he’s going to check into the hospital “to give us a break.”  We don’t need a break.  Things have been good for 4-5 weeks now.  I just wanted to know what happened Monday.

I’m so sorry I wrote that note and gave it to him.  Shouldn’t have done it.  It made things worse than just letting him be.

Going to go have me a good cry.  Then probably a nap.  Not up to yoga or tai chi today.  I think I’d rather wallow in a little self pity.

UPDATE

It’s 4PM and he’s been raging all damn day.  He’s talking about going to the hospital, but we are encouraging him not to go.  I know as soon as he checks in, he will want to leave again.  Plus it’s Christmas this weekend, we don’t want it ruined by him being in hospital, but then again, if he’s going to be in a manic rage all week, maybe it’s best.

I feel this is all my fault.  I know how he reacts.  But I was angry with him, and disappointed, and felt I needed to do something.  Unfortunately, for Son, it was the wrong thing.

NAMI

The National Association for Mental Illness is having an end of the year fund drive.  I normally don’t do this, but with Trump coming into office who knows what will happen to people who have mental health needs. It’s very possible the helplines currently out there will be cut or entangled.

Back in October 2016 (read article here) Trump was speaking to a group of veterans and commented on those with mental illness.  He stood there in front of soldiers with PTSD, those with depression, or those knew someone who committed suicide, and others who may have attempted, and called them weak.  “They can’t handle it,”  he said.  If he doesn’t even understand the basics of humanity and psychology, do you really think he will commit funding to the VA for improved care?

I don’t think he will.  I think he is going to sit in the White House and perpetuate myths and misinformation about depression, PTSD and other issues faced by returning vets.  He expects that a ‘strong’ person can beat their depression.  Like it’s a heavy bag, and punching it every day will make it go away.  It doesn’t work like that.  There’s medication and therapy.  Finding the right doctor and getting the right meds takes time and effort.  Often more effort to find help than to give in.

The man hasn’t an ounce of empathy in his body, do you think he knows how to help vets and others with mental illness beat the stigma?  No.  Obviously, Trump is going to re-introduce the myth that those with depression are just ‘weak’.  That soldiers who come back from combat with PTSD, as being “unable to handle it.”  What kind of assistance is he going to ensure the community continues to destroy the stigma and myths around mental illness.  We need to stand by NAMI, the VA and other support groups in making sure people have adequate access to mental health care.

Over the past 20 years, deaths related to substance abuse and mental illness have increased by over 1,000 percent in some areas.

This GIF Sums Up The Impact Of Addiction And Mental Illness On America  (click on graphic):

.  hp-gif

For the complete article:  Huffington Post

Here’s Mayim Bialik  making the plea for NAMI.

Thanks for reading.

Making Slow Progress

Spent most of the day going over Son’s meds, writing down the dosage, which doctors prescribed them and which do what.  Another part of the day was spent combing through GP’s who are accepting Medi-cal patients.  So far it’s a bust– it’s like being rejected when they say they won’t take you on.  You can only take so much of that in a day.  But after all was said and one, I got Son set up with the Rheumatologist, the Psychologist and the Psychiatrist.

It’s hard with Son being on these strong drugs with nasty side effects.  You can’t tell if the slurred speech and confusion is because of the meds or because Son took something in addition.  I have no proof Son is lying when he says he is taking nothing but the prescribed stuff, but Husband doesn’t believe it at all.  Every time Son falls asleep or slurs his words, Husband confronts and accuses him.  I don’t know if that is right or wrong, but I dislike that approach.  But I’m afraid Husband is right, and Son has added something herbal to his regimen.  He doesn’t have the same symptoms from one day to the next, and he was doing much better last week!

How am I supposed to keep him sober while I do all this stuff.  And I do it because no one else will.  How much effort should I put in?  Shouldn’t I do everything I can?  Or is this too much?  I only know it’s wearing on me this week.  I need to set up a couple of doctor appointments for myself that I just haven’t had the time to take care of that.  It’s amazing how tired you can get just slogging through crap like this.

 

 

Care For The Mentally Ill

When will there be no stigma or restrictions regarding mental health.  My son just spent 7 of the last 10 days in a mental health ward.  He acts no different.   Still surly and angry, which I have come to understand can be part of BPD (bi-polar disorder).  Unfortunately, that is very hard to take.  I’ve never handled the anger of others well.  Get mad at me and I just want to run away.

The docs sent him home with lots of scripts, including Depacote, but I’m not sure what else.  He’s not very talkative right now, except to complain to me about his dad.  Somehow Son blames his dad for most of his problems.  It’s really hurt my husband deeply, to think their once very close relationship has come to this.

Frustrated?  OMG!  I don’t think I could feel more helpless.  We are unable to get Son to do much to improve his situation.  I have begun the necessary paperwork to get him on federal disability.  Now I have to find him a new GP, a therapist, and a psychiatrist.  Because if I don’t do it, it will never get done.  I’ve been on the phone every day the last two weeks trying to get him into a 30 day program.  I have left message after message, but never received a call back.  My last call, yesterday, I thought I was making progress, as I finally got a name (though they gave it so fast, I didn’t get it, but I did get his extension, which is helpful.  I’ve left him a message.  You know, if they don’t have the space, fine, just let me know and I will try elsewhere.  Almost NO ONE takes a patient with Medi-Cal.  The plan is absolutely worthless:  Poor quality care, lousy doctors, horrible office staff, red tape, ridiculous rules, and the docs don’t get properly paid.

I thought I found a psychiatrist last week.  The office staff and website all refered to her as Doctor, but she is a Nurse Practioner .  I think labeling her Doctor is misleading.  I asked her about her education and I find out her masters degree is in epidemiology!  And you know what else?  In California it is nearly impossible to check up on a Psychiatrist.  If you’re a lawyer you’re a member of the State Lawyers Association, and usually, a member of the national lawyers association, both of which can be easily accessed by the lay person if you want to know what their specialties are, make sure they are properly licensed.  But you cannot do the same for psychiatrists.  That most definitely seems quite wrong.  Especially when that “doctor” prescribes a drug (in this case Rexulti), but doesn’t mention any side effects.

He took one of these pills and his regular meds and a lot of alcohol, and by midnight he was hallucinating and speaking gibberish, he was paranoid, and angry, and just plain out of control.  So we took him to the ER where he sat for 5 hours during which time, nothing was done.  Why?  Because they could not make sense of what he was saying.  They would not speak with me about what had been going on.  All they wanted to know was whether he was suicidal, and because they got a “no” they just released him.  At home about an hour later, things got worse and we had to call paramedics, but since we didn’t know at the time what he may have taken, the police also arrived.

Why should I have to call the police?  They aren’t trained to recognize psychiatric problems, they just treat everyone like a criminal.  I specifically requested paramedics, assuming they were trained at least minimally in psychiatric disorders.  But they never even spoke with Son.  So I had to watch the police manhandle my poor boy and take him back the hospital to be placed on what they refer to as a 5150.  Basically it’s a 72 hour suicide watch.  It was a horrible place, where he got very little help, but when we got him back he was able to converse.

Then two days later he checked himself back in.  He came home today.  He has been drug and alcohol free for about 10 days, but his mood is still black.  He is quick to anger and always yelling.

The thing is, if he’d cut himself, or had cancer, or had appendicitis, he would get immediate and appropriate care.  But because he has a mental condition, nothing is done.  I am so angry with this broken medical/insurance system in this country I could scream.  Why is it we have to wait for bi-polar individuals to totally lose it and hurt someone before anyone intervenes?  And then again, it’s the police.

Why are mental illness and addiction treated as crimes?  How do we change that?  Finding a solution is very hard, but I’m trying.

 

 

 

 

 

Moving On

Despite my best efforts to ignore the holidays, they are still just around the corner.  I did manage to do a little holiday baking, for the sake of being neighborly, but not being religious, nor a rapacious consumer, it gets harder and harder to participate in the holidays.

I am thankful for all the things I have and continue to work on being kind.  To others and myself.  Thank you, all my readers, followers, and friends here.  I appreciate your time and effort in reading and commenting on my little blog, and for supporting me during my Midlife Crisis and Beyond.  I have been getting less and less active, both posting and reading and have decided, that, while I will continue to miss all of you, my mind is currently occupied elsewhere.

I send you all the blessings of the universe and fulfillment.  Thank you for being part of my life.  Remember to be kind, and if you can’t be kind, be silent.

 

Random Rants

I’m convinced the Tecfidera I started taking for my MS six months ago was causing these sudden weird mood swings.  They are like nothing else I’ve ever experienced.  It happened so fast, Jeckel and Hyde-like, from talking pleasantly and something went off in my head.  I became angry with Husband.  He could see coming, a small (relatively) meltdown.  By the time we got home we were arguing–sort of. When we got home I went in and took a long shower and a long hard cry while Husband ignored me.  I went from pleasant day to suicidal in under an hour!  That cannot be normal, but I cannot find anywhere on the internet anyone mentioning almost anything about this kind of side effect.  I saw one question on a community board but no one had responded to it.  I know when I tell the doc that I stopped taking it and why she’ll come up with an excuse that it can’t be the med.  Or will she be reasonable and listen to me.  Rare or not, while I’m not really done testing my theory, but the last time I took a pill was Thursday, I’ve been feeling better every day since, I feel more normal and balanced.  Cheerful even.

I got frightened a previous time it happened and quickly went to my shrink.  He has seen me for about 6 months now.  I’ve always come in smiling and doing fine.  In fact last time we met we talked about lowering my dosage,  This time, I come in upset and crying and he just looks at me.  Nothing to say except to recommend counseling. Then he says, “I will refill your prescriptions.” and jotted something in my chart.  Clearly he is not the doctor I need.  I was so spoiled by my last doctor.  He was young and sweet and caring and actually talked to me.  He spent sometimes 30 minutes with me on a bad day.  This new guy, I’m in and out in less than 10 minutes.  He’s made his $500 an hour in ten minutes.  Imagine how many patients he can see in a day.  Cynical?  Yes.  But very true. Counting this one, I’ve seen four docs like this.   Perhaps it’s because II chose one of the least expensive health insurance options, I get the least “good” doctors?

happyBut it is what it is.  I know.  People hate the phrase.  I don’t.  I find it very much an Easter philosophy.  Like something Confucius might have sad.  I heard it first from my boss at the time.  IT was when my marriage was crumbling.  It really resonated, and I adopted it.  I don’t say it constantly, so.don’t hate me.

I posted the other day about diet and trying to change mine.  I’m addicted.  There.  I said it.  In some literature my Husband’s liver doctor gave us, studies have shown that sugar is more addictive than heroin.  I believe it.  I have been working on staying away from sugar.  But we had an apple pie last night.  Of course I had a piece (two actually, I didn’t eat much dinner).  And, of course, last night was halloween, so we have mini chocolate bars left.  I’m absolutely spineless when things like that are around.  I love to get the last piece, too.  What’s that about?

For those of you who read this far, I add the following photos.  A tiny mystery.  I have this plant growing in the yard.  It’s basically a weed, I guess.  I’ve been trying to identify it all day online.  I’ve seen a couple photos online, but not information about it.  My dogs love to eat it.  More than grass.  They haven’t gotten sick yet, so I know it’s not poisonous.  Plus I think animals are instinctive about that.and know which plants are safe to eat.  Husband says I’m wrong and shouldn’t let them eat the stuff.  So if anybody can tell me what this is and that it’s safe for animals, I’d appreciate it.

DSC03508

The seeds.

DSC03505

Growing bud. They open up more as the stem grows.

DSC03506When I told my shrink I regularly take 2 hour naps.  Pretty much daily.  He said a nap was 15 minutes.  Since I was a teen, if I took a nap, it was always more than an hour (barring sickness).  I’m trying to take fewer naps, can’t seem to take shorter ones.  If Husband wakes me after an hour or less, I am groggy and sometimes it’s so bad I have to go back to bed.

Hope you are all having a marvelous weekend!  I send you thoughts of happiness, peace and contentment.  And now I’m going to do yoga instead of napping.   We’ll see how that goes, I doubled my pain and anti-spasm pills this moring, the pain was too bad.  I’m hoping going back to yoga will help.

I had the last (small) piece of pie for breakfast.  I figure, at least there’s fruit in it.  I’ve only had three mini candy bars (so far).