Tuesday, May 8, 2007

9-2000 to 7-2001: This is a long, but VITAL post

It was sometime in September, I'm not sure exactly what day it was. In fact, I don't think it was any one particular day that set it off. I just began to feel bad. I think it was partly due to the fact that I was now in graduate school, and soon I would have to make a decision on where to next take my career. I was kind of limited as it was then. SOME University didn't offer doctorate programs, so I would either have to stop at the masters level, or move to complete the doctorate degree. At this point moving was not really an option, so finish the masters degree it was. However, the degree program I was seeking was brand new as I understood it. And for what I wanted to do (environmental health) I wasn't sure if the degree would really be of benefit to me. I was planning on sticking it out, though.

Then there was also the more philosophical problem of other minds, solipsism I understand it is called. It just became very difficult to teach class. I would go around helping the students with their labs, dissections, etc., and I would think, "can they really see me like I see them?". And I would try to superimpose myself onto their physical space and look through their eyes. And you know, I've read stuff like no one can really know what or how some one else interprets things, anyway. Because essentially all stimuli is filtered through our brains and interpreted as is. That image is my image and no one else's Now whether or not the other bodies could see an image, and I suppose it would be near or similar to mine. They could say they could, and I'm sure if I were to ask them, they would affirmate. But, how could one Really know? You can't. You can just assume. Sometimes, this just isn't good enough for me. It's still a major stumbling block, a major hurdle; one of my many so called "burdens" I must bear. I would keep trying to tell myself that if was just the dp/dr and my analytical mind was trying to deal with it this way apparently.

I became so stressed that I could not function like I should have been able to. I could not prepare for my courses, nor could I prepare lesson plans for the labs and lectures. I felt like I was breaking. However, it wasn't as bad as 12-14-90. Nothing can even remotely compare to that. I was in all practicality, more myself before then. Since then I had been slowly building myself back up to a living level. Some kind of functioning contentment. Happiness is not really an option. Although I do admit, my daughter does make me happy at times. I thoroughly enjoy and love Liza with all my heart. There is nothing I would not do for my baby girl. Even if I have to live a life of hell, a million times over to make everything okay. I would do it. I am prepared. Other than her (and to a lesser degree, Tabby) I am at times merely content. I've often thought (and still do) of what might have been, had I not had than initial mental breakdown. As of lately, I have been rather busy trying to figure out my (our) present situation.

This "perception" problem and the unreality thinking (along with two hallucinations/visions I had when I was younger; one was audio and the other visual) led me to investigate further. However, before this, I had been seeing a counselor for quite some time concerning the dp and dr. I have a huge collection of used text books that I had collected over time from a discontinued book sale. You could generally get twelve books for a dollar. So, this is a routine event for me. I had a few psychology texts in there and began looking through the abnormal psychology chapters, and a particular symptom caught my attention.

It basically said that some think that either they are not real, or the world is not real (a figment of their imagination) or both. I found out that the destructive disorder called "schizophrenia" is capable of causing delusions such as these. The more I read into this, while thinking about various other symptoms, I thought that it was possible that I had this disease of the brain. That would explain so much. To be honest, I was somewhat relieved to have been able to put a label on this. Like perhaps I was really human after all.

It has been known that depersonalization and derealization can lead to schizophrenia. Where that cut off is, I don't think anyone is really for sure. If I was or am schizophrenic, I would be known as an "intuitive schizophrenic" or a "high functioning schizophrenic". Damn, what a situation to be in. Either the world really isn't real and the disease called "schizophrenia" is just made up (perhaps by myself) to try to trick myself into thinking the world is real and I'm just sick, or I really do have this brain disease and IT is deceiving me as to the elusive nature of reality.

I had been seeing Karissa at the community counseling center for about a month before suggesting to her if I could be perhaps a high functioning schizophrenic. She said that it is certainly a possibility, and then arranged an appointment to see one of the psychiatrists, Dr. Suave.

Dr. Suave, a small mild mannered man, and I engaged in fruitful conversation in our visit. For the most part it was a general recap of life history, current medications, what's going on now type of questions. I had seen him once before with the general work up of the depersonalization and derealization. He seemed to agree about the possibility of schizophrenia. There is a term used in psychology and it means essentially that one can "put on" symptoms or greatly exaggerate them to make them fit into a certain diagnoses. It seemed, now in retrospect, that this is what I could have been doing. Nevertheless, the symptoms fit the bill so Dr. Suave prescribed an anti psychotic drug known as Zyprexa

For a while, a was able to continue at the university, but soon, after a couple of weeks, I felt more agitated and compulsive. I was wanting to be healed of these mental maladies. No longer able to fulfill my duties as a graduate assistant or a student, I withdrew from the university some time in October. A few days or a few weeks after that, compulsory thoughts livid in my mind, I shaved my head. Like I said, there was no real reason, just a compulsion to do so. Perhaps I was just so depressed, this is one way I could induce lasting change?

I wouldn't live that one down for a couple of years; hopefully, my daughter doesn't remember any of that. Apparently, I had taken a half bottle of Tylenol and then left the apartment and walked around for a while. When I came back my sister Britney, who had been watching Liza, wore a questioning and frightened look, and asked me where I was. Tabby had just walked in and was glaring at me. They told me the police had been there looking for me. It had shaken Britney up pretty bad, and of course Liza, was only five at the time was more inquisitive than frightened.

I spent most of that night getting my stomach pumped in the emergency room of SOME Hospital, in Capeston. The staff kept saying how hopefully they got it all out in time before any damage could be done. Christ, Tylenol is some pretty wicked shit. And usually it doesn't even do anything for me. If I'd known this I would have found something a little more "fun" to overdose on.

After that, they sent me up to the psychiatric ward, floor 5, in the same hospital. This was the hospital that my daughter was born in. I felt shame, that I had let my family down. But what else could I do? I thought perhaps it was the Zyprexa causing the compulsiveness. The depression still lingered over me, like a baby lingers to its mother. That was real. While taking the Zyprexa, I had noticed a distinct sensation in the middle of my head. It felt like somebody was turning a cork screw in my head. Pressure minus the pain. So, there ya go. See it? The medicine made me do it. Only, I do not think Dr. Rivers agreed.

After I explained to him about the feelings of unreality, and the fact that after the initial experience in 12-14-90 was the worst of "feeling like I was in a dream". I told him I didn't really feel like it anymore. However, I just lived life like it is not a dream, like everything is real, even though, deep down inside I still wonder if it really is. "This is schizophrenia, this is the disease that is talking", he told me, repeatedly, trying to reassure me. I was just so sick of living like this, pretending that everything was real, when I wasn't sure it was.

My god, what would Pascal say to this? Good ol' Pascal, trying to help everyone get to heaven whether they really believed in it or the religious dogma, or not. He said essentially what do you have to lose? If you believe there is a heaven and god then you may have a chance of going to heaven, but if you don't then surely you won't. A major counter argument to that is: if you really don't believe, wouldn't an omnipotent creator god see directly through the hypocrisy?

Perhaps the depersonalization and derealization has advanced so far that I've built a tolerance to the actual physical effects, those manifestations such as seeing through an invisible shield? The vertigo that sometimes waxes and wanes? I hadn't reality tested in quite a while. I had just given up. Fuck it. What will be, will be.

I'm not sure if I should say that the depersonalization and derealization has advanced so far that I was now just tolerant, or that the effects had just subsided over time. I mean, I had been going to school, and actually enjoying it. I hadn't been a recluse the entire time, although I do enjoy being alone most of the time.

Dr. Rivers, a true pill pumper, decided he wanted to treat this as aggressively as possible and put me on resperidol, haldol, along with my Xanax and whatever else I was taking. He said that he's seen cases like mine and he's seen some really good results. Thanks to the haldol, I couldn't stop shaking for about three or four days. I discontinued that in a hurry. It didn't take long, five days I think, and they had decided I was well enough to go home. No immediate danger. What the actual stay did for me, other than get introduced to people who were over stressed, depressed, etc., I'm not sure. There were a few there with serious depression and one catatonic schizophrenic.

During this time, Tabby still worked at Manpower and I had the leftovers of my stafford loans. We barely made it, but we did. Christmas and the new year came and passed. In February, we got our tax refund, and I used my portion to stay caught up with rent, etc. I found my way into the hospital a couple more times and once even at a psychiatric center in a major metropolitan hospital a couple of hours away. The night I left it was snowing and the wind was ferocious. I have no idea how I got there. I have no recollection of the drive.

When I finally found some point where I was able to, I started working part time at Manpower. I had thought about and even attempted to get social security income (SSI). However, the waiting and all the red tape to get it going was almost too much. I started thinking about other opportunities.

I think it was Tabby who brought a program at the Hospital to my attention. It was a program for Medical Technology. Some refer to it as clinical laboratory science. I had a friend who went through the program. I knew him from my biology courses. So, I thought, what could it hurt? I applied, sent in my transcripts, and all that good stuff. I interviewed with the program director, Ann Rose. She was the sweetest most cordial person I had seen in a long time. She welcomed me to the course. All my documents were in and I was one of the selected candidates. Woo hoo, I was going back to school. I think part of my problem was that I was essentially doing nothing prior to that. Having a short term goal seemed to alleviate some of it.

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