Wednesday, February 15, 2017


I am finally recovering from that nasty virus, although my mental state is still a bit dodgy. I'm still having some problems with random anxiety attacks and my brain feels like Swiss cheese. Keeping a thought going or concentrating on anything is a no go.

Yesterday I had my monthly appointment with my psychiatrist and today I saw my therapist. My poor brain had a hard time keeping a conversation going. Fortunately they both know me well and were patient. But we were able to communicate a couple of issues.

First, my mental state is very precarious, more so than I thought. I have been doing quite well and the mix of medications I am on right now is doing me a lot of good. I am by no means "well" - whatever that means - but I have been stable, even with the surgery and the pain associated with it. Then all it took was a virus, with its sleep disruption and vomiting, and I was pushed to the edge. And I really was at the edge. The only thing that kept me from falling into full-blown psychosis was 30 years of experience of keeping my mind wrapped in mental duct tape. It was frightening how being sick physically could push me so far off  balance. I thought I was solidly on the cliff top, at least a few steps from the edge. Instead I found out I have been on Angel's Landing trail where it is only a couple of feet wide and there is a 1,000-foot drop on either side.

Second, I need to put provisions in place for when I get that sick. When I was barely clinging to reality because I was vomiting and had horrible welts and hives all over my body, I should have gone to the ER. I know this now looking back at it and my psychiatrist and therapist both agree. But because I was having a mental break, my paranoia was fully flared up and I truly believed that there was absolutely nothing any doctor could do for me. I was on my own. In other words, when I'm that sick, with my autoimmune diseases flared up and my mind going haywire, I can't trust my own judgement. And now I am angry not only at myself, but also at my parents for not suggesting I go see a doctor. Logically I know I can't blame my parents, after all, I told them I was fine and knew what to do. But logic doesn't always apply. And I have decided that I will have to talk to them about what to do if I get that sick again. I sincerely pray that it doesn't happen again, but I can't count on that.

I am still tired. My body is just worn out and my brain is still fritzing. And I am scared. I am terrified of heights, and I am even more terrified of falling. I don't like learning that my solid ground isn't so solid. I just want to feel safe with myself.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Thrown completely off balance.

I have mentioned before the need to integrate health care so that mental illnesses and physical illnesses are treated equally and together. But beyond that, we also need to acknowledge that even the simplest physical problems can throw a person with a mental illness toward a breakdown or psychosis.

I have been recovering from major surgery and I have been very proud of myself that I haven't had a major breakdown despite the pain and medication problems. One trick was that I was able to stay on my medication and meal schedule, which helped keep me on an even keel.

Well, now I am attempting to recover from the flu and all bets are off. Most people with the flu worry about secondary infections and spreading it to their kids. For me, the flu turns into a full blown war zone with my own body. Forget secondary infections, I have to deal with my own immune system going completely haywire. My sinuses run light a water tap and drain into my lungs, making me cough. The coughing fit will turn into gagging because of the mucus at the back of my throat and my super-sensitive gag reflex will turn it into retching and then full-on vomiting. It gets worse when I try to lay down, so my sleep is severely disrupted. My autoimmune circulatory problems mean I will be running a fever, but my hands and feet will be so cold they are turning blue. My body tries to even things out, and I will swap from shivering to sweating in 10-minute cycles. And then there is the urticaria. The overheated skin triggers my immune system to attack itself in my skin and I break out in itchy welts that just radiate heat. Benedryl and other antihistamines do nothing and hydrocortisone cream can only do so much.

Last night it hit the tipping point and I held on literally by my fingernails. I had been vomiting for 3 days and so the ingestion of my meds was iffy. As a result, I could feel myself getting shaky, physically and mentally. I was dizzy and sick from not being able to keep food down and my skin was so itchy and on fire I was starting to fall into the delusion of having worms under my skin. Yes, this is the fun delusion that landed me in the hospital 3 years ago. I started sobbing, but that made me start coughing again and I sat dry heaving over a wastebasket for I don't know how long.

I was losing it and I know it. I tried some steady breathing and just tried to keep everything calm. I had already pulled out all my eyelashes and I have no hair to pull so I had to outlet for the pain. Skin gouging was only making it worse because of the urticaria. Finally, after scratching one spot so hard it bled, I got my nail clippers and file and very slowly, carefully, and deliberately cut all my fingernails as short as possible. Then with the same deliberation I filed them smooth. I think it took me almost an hour, and it gave me something to focus on that was actually kind of helpful.

I still can't help scratching at the welts on my skin, but with no sharp nails it bruises instead of cuts. I threw up my breakfast this morning, but so far I have kept my dinner in place. Gatorade is helping with the dizziness. I am still sick and miserable and really close to going completely psychotic - all from a virus. I am taking it moment by moment. And I am praying I can sleep tonight.