Brain “Tumor”

It’s called a meningioma. It’s not strictly a tumor but it’s close enough that the doctors count it in the tumor category. And it’s in my brain.

MY!!!

BRAIN!!!!
WHAT THE EVERLASTING FUCK???!!!!

I’m back and forth between so depressed I can barely move and so anxious I can’t sit still. And the whole time I’m on the verge of tears.

I found out Thursday. Meningioma aren’t big growers. They get in there and just kinda hang out. A lot of women have them and they are no big deal. You don’t even know it’s there because it causes no problems so unless you need a brain MRI for something else it will go undetected for the rest of your life.

But not mine.

Mine has grown .2 cm in the last 6 months. And apparently that’s a lot. But beyond that it is pressing on the pons. I have limited understanding here, but it appears to be on the brainstem…maybe it is the brain stem…I’m uneducated in this area, but I’m working on it. What I do know is that the pons is in one way or another responsible for SO much. Most every symptom I have can be explained away by what this fricking little meningioma is doing. Dizziness? Yep. Forgetfulness? Sure. High blood pressure? Throw it on the pile. And on and on and on.

And now we come to the part that I’m SOOOO bad about. Patience. Have to wait for an appointment locally. I’m getting another opinion at Mayo, so wait for an appointment there. Wait for repeat testing locally AND at Mayo. Although I have to say that all these hospitals that talk about how long stuff takes??? It doesn’t take that long at Mayo. They are quite good at getting patients through the bullshit.

But I digress.

Options that I’m aware of:

  1. Wait and see…we just did that (although not for that reason) and it got bigger and more intrusive.
  2. Radiation
  3. Surgery

Now the one good thing is that meningioma are rarely cancer although the potential exists. Radiation and surgery could work easily but they could also fuck up my bipolar something stellar….or make it better I guess. Or kill me I suppose. Which scares me…which is weird since I’m often at least passively suicidal.

Y’all I’m a mess. This entry is a mess. I need to vent. I need to SCREAM!!!! I need to sob hysterically.

I need answers.

Pray for fast appointments for me!!!

Peace and Love

IOP Day 1

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So, not bad. I’m a veteran of this particular program so I wasn’t nervous going in there. At least not too much. My counselor, Patsy, from the last two times is still there although she is in more of a managerial position now. However, she will lead groups this week and next to cover vacations so YAY! Ah…what makes me happy these days is some pretty simple shit. There is a male counselor there, Sean, that I’m not over the moon about but it’s more of a style issue than it is about him knowing what he needs to know. And there is now a third counselor, Sarah, who is on vacation this week.

There are now two nurses, which is great. John has been there and I know him well and Faye is new and very cool. They will monitor my general physical health and John is a great listener. I don’t know about Faye yet, by I suspect she is the same

The psychiatrist I was so excited to see again is no longer there. However, he has well trained his replacement. She is younger but very kind. And very eager to listen. Which is incredibly helpful. I know my meds. I’ve been taking meds for my mental health for a long time now, and I know what my body and mind are saying. I need someone to listen and have ideas, while taking mine into account. So, we increased my Trileptal, and we left my Anafranil alone for now. However, we are considering Depakote is the Trileptal doesn’t hold. It’s amazing to her that I’ve never been on it. And considering how amazed she is, I’m amazed, too. I thought I’d been on pretty much everything. Turns out, that I haven’t been on the old stuff, just the new stuff. Trileptal is old, Depakote is old even the Anafranil is old. She’s also putting me on Vistaril to go along with the Klonopin. My anxiety has been so bad lately that I’ve been taking my Klonopin 3-4 times a day instead of the 2 that I get. Hopefully the Vistaril will help.

Group itself started a little rocky because no one was wearing masks. These are small rooms. There were 12 people in there and it fills the room in chairs along all the walls. I can’t do the no mask thing. I understand why they don’t require vaccines. You can’t turn away a person in a mental health crisis, you just can’t. It is what it is and I would never suggest differently. But, COVID is here. It’s not my fault or your fault or their fault but it has to be handled. We have three elderly parents between us. Two have heart problems, one has lung problems. And I need treatment, too. So, once everyone got masked up things were better. I got out a little of what has been going on and cried some, which helped some.

If you’ve never done group therapy, it can be a little intimidating. This is my third time in this program and my sixth time through a group therapy program in general. You have to talk. You have to share your stuff and help with other people’s stuff. Sometimes some of your stuff gets resolved without even talking about it because someone else talks about the same sort of problem. A lot of people in this group are graduating this week which is actually good, because they are young. I mean…young. The girl sitting next to me was still in high school and the rest were in their 20’s. We have a lot of Air Force and Navy around here and a lot of them end up in this program. But, while the content of the story may be different, the emotions underneath are often the same. And we can all understand the emotions.

I don’t need inpatient. While I am suicidal, it’s somewhat transitory. For instance, right now? Not so much. Sunday? I was ready to drive my car into a tree. Some days it doesn’t exist at all or it’s passive. Not a plan just a general not caring if something were to just take me out.

There is so much going on in my life right now. But, I want to enjoy Christmas. I want to take some pleasure in the season and I have no chance of that without this program.

Assess Me

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Today I’m going to be assessed for the Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) at the local hospital. I know I’ll get in but I don’t like this process.

Being assessed in general makes me angsty. I spent a lot of time being judged when I was young and it has made me skittish about it being done to me now. I don’t like my MIL to watch me do…pretty much anything actually. I don’t think she’s actually judging me when I think about it rationally. But in the moment it really really bothers me.

But these assessments that get given when you try to get into a mental health hospital or program really piss me off. I don’t want to prove myself. I KNOW I NEED HELP that’s why I’m there in the first place.

BUT…that’s not what they are trying to do. When I calm down and try to think rationally, I know that they are just trying to figure out where I’m at emotionally. They need to know if I’m going to try to kill myself that night. Or what the range of my issues are. Or what emotional problems I’m dealing with. What meds I’m on. If I’m complying with the doctors I’m seeing now. All the things they need to know before they throw me into group.

The one thing that may help me this time is the therapist, Patsy. I’ve been to this particular program twice before. Both of those times were after an in-patient stay, the last time I actually tried to kill myself. That was only two years ago and it’s why I’m being really cautious now, as is my therapist. But, Patsy has been there the whole time. She knows me, she knows my issues. She already knows the players. She has a lot of notes about all this and I’m sure she will be reading them before tomorrow. But, she’s not going to make me feel like I’m auditioning for a spot.

Of course, going into a group therapy setting during COVID isn’t really rocking my world. But, I’m vaccinated, I’m boostered, I mask everywhere I go and masks are required in IOP. I wish they would require vaccines there, but it would leave people who are unvaccinated to potentially kill themselves and that can’t be allowed.

But, I can’t allow me to kill myself either…although that alternative really sounds appealing every so often.

And that’s how I know I need help.

☮️❤️

Suicidal Thoughts

My last post was me being grateful that I’m out of the hospital. So is this one, but with a catch.

I have decided to go to IOP. For the uninitiated, IOP is Intensive Outpatient Program. I’ve been to the one near here twice before. There is a therapist there that I just love and an excellent psychiatrist.

I need to talk. I can’t really talk everything out with my husband. He is mourning his child and I don’t want him to know how hard things are for me right now. But, things are very hard. I’ve been having active suicidal ideations. Since my thoughts have always revolved on taking all of my meds, med times are getting harder for me.

I have talked this out with my therapist. I’m not low enough for the inpatient program. But, if I don’t do something soon, I will be. If I go to IOP, I’ll get a high level of care without having to leave my husband at home without me.

I know this is short and I’m sorry. There is so much more I could say, but I don’t want to dwell right now.

I hope you are all well and I will talk to you soon.

Peace and love

Stigma

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Ah stigma. The mentally ill person’s constant companion. Hell, it’s so widespread that we do it to ourselves sometimes. If you’ve ever disparaged yourself in anyway because of your mental illness, you have subjected yourself to stigma.

Last weekend, I happened to glance at my Fitbit. My heart rate was 110, which was ridiculous because I wasn’t doing anything. So, I took my blood pressure. And it was high. Not “run to the ER” high, but definitely “make a Dr. appointment” high. It was getting late on a Friday, so I called and made an appointment with my primary care doc for Tuesday of this week and did my best to chill out. But, by Sunday morning it was higher. So, I went to Urgent Care. The nurse practitioner at Urgent Care came in and started to get my history. I am ALWAYS upfront about my Bipolar and Anxiety issues. So I was with her as well. Her demeanor changed immediately. I saw it cross her face. It’s a split second of pity which is replaced by barely hid impatience. Because of course the anxious woman is having blood pressure issues, she’s just anxious! What followed was disgusting. She became condescending. I got a lecture on staying calm and practicing mindfulness. She left the room to order and EKG and some blood work “to be sure”.

Because, you see, she didn’t believe my blood pressure issues were being caused by anything except me allowing my mental illness to get the best of me. Stigma.

But, do you see here where I stigmatized myself? I ALLOWED her to treat me like that. I allowed her to be exasperated. I allowed her to lecture me. I didn’t correct her by saying I’ve been practicing mindfulness for years now. I didn’t tell her I’m med-resistant. I didn’t tell her that I’m on my 4th increase of Trileptal this year. I didn’t tell her to shut her big fat fucking mouth and stop assuming things about me. All of that is stigma against myself.

After my EKG (normal) and bloodwork (normal) a nurse came back to take my blood pressure again. And guess what? It was still high. She had left me there to calm my bipolar self down and my blood pressure was still high. And she was surprised. And she was nicer when she came back in with the prescription for a blood pressure pill and advice to see my doctor.

She made me sit in a room by myself and get an EKG and blood work to prove to herself that it wasn’t just my bipolar and anxiety driving up my blood pressure. And by itself, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. But, when combined with the condescending attitude it becomes very strong stigma. And it will make you feel bad about yourself if you let it.

But the stigma we perpetuate against ourselves is worse. “Negative self talk” is often stigma. When you tell yourself that you are useless because of your mental illness, that’s stigma. When you tell yourself that you are stupid because of your mental illness, that’s stigma. And when someone is rude because they think less of you because of your mental illness and you don’t stop them, that’s stigma from both sides.

Speaking out is a way to help reduce the stigma we can experience in society. A lot of it is simply due to ignorance of the topic. I told someone once that I was bipolar and he said “But you seem so smart”. And he meant it. He was under the impression that mental illness equated to intelligence. And it wasn’t until I corrected him that he knew better. He was in his late 60’s when that happened. It’s rampant and it’s almost strictly due to a lack of education about mental health. There is some talk about mental health issues being taught in school as a direct result of the pandemic. But I can tell you that here in SC there is resistance to teaching little Jimmy about anything besides Reading, Writing, Math and whatever the local approved version of history is.

But, more than anything, even if you can’t fight publicly against stigma, STOP perpetrating it against yourself! Learn some kind self talk. I hate saying mantras but some days it’s the best I can do.

I AM ENOUGH

And guess what…so are you.

Two years

Two years ago I tried to kill myself.

Damn, things have changed in my life in that short amount of time.

My stepson has died. We’re still stuck with the “baby-mama” or whatever she is at this point. I have renamed her crazy-cakes though because…holy crap. She’s still torturing all of us.

The difference is family unity…such as it is. I knelt and kissed the ring of the mother when the son passed. I had to. Well, I didn’t HAVE to but…I had to. I wasn’t approached about it until the day of the service and the mother sent the remainder of the kids to make the request. If I had said no, the world would have kept spinning. But, instead of just me feeling nasty about the whole thing, it would have been my husband and my other step-kids. And she put me in the position on the day of her kid’s funeral. I’ve decided to try to deal with this as if I were a Mafia Don and it was the day of my daughter’s wedding. Everyone gets ONE favor. This was hers. She’s officially out of good will for now.

It’s been two years since the attempt I made. It was a good faith attempt. I did not half ass it. I made a mistake though. I’m not going to tell you what it was because I don’t want to refine YOUR plan, but it has refined mine.

Historically, I’m due for another hospital stay. I’ve had some sort of major breakdown around Thanksgiving every two years for the last ten. But, so far so good. I’m not sure why, but I’m going to take it. Generally though I manage to navigate stressful times fairly well. It’s the part that comes after. Once everything is settled down some. It’s like the release of all that stress causes my problems. I should be feeling better like everyone else, but I don’t. I feel worse. I feel lost.

Crazy-cakes still needs to be dealt with. There is one thing that needs to be determined still. If that shakes out in her favor, we’ll be stuck with her for a very long time to come. Unfortunately, I’m the only one who is ready to do what needs to be done to find out what we need to know. And I do not hold the power with this. So it’ll have to wait for now.

I know this is vague and wandering. It’s all I have for today though.

Peace and Love y’all.

I don’t even know where to start. Everything is much as it was when I last wrote. We’re trying desperately to get through the death of my step-son. Crazy-cakes (which is now my new name for his girlfriend) is still bugging the crap out of us. We’re trying. I don’t know if we are succeeding.

I, personally, feel like I’m on a ship in very rough seas. I’m up on a wave and I crash into the space between the waves. Last Friday I sobbed, near hysterical, through my entire therapy appointment in the morning and then I went to bed and stayed there. Yesterday I felt great.

I haven’t been able to write at all. Y’all there is just SO much.

Hubby got into a road rage incident with some woman that was freaking out about the political bumper sticker on the back of my car (which hubby was driving). You see I have a Democrat sticker on my car in the deep South and people down here have a problem with that. Normally it’s not a big deal. Sometimes someone gives me the finger…I just smile and wave and keep going. But this bitch…well hubby is broken right now. And he snapped. He got out of the car and after they had words, he spit the wad of McDonald’s french fries in his mouth at her. And she called the cops and now he’s got a charge of assault and battery 3 against him. Normally I’d laugh my ass off, but you don’t spit in a pandemic. So, that’ll be fun and damn lawyers are expensive. But, it comes with a potential of 30 days in jail…good stuff. He doesn’t dispute his guilt, but jail?

Hubby is also going on short term disability for his mental health. I’m so sad for him that his mind is driving him as nuts as it is. There is a good side to this though as sad as it makes me. Today I listened to him try to explain his depression to a clinician for the insurance company. When he got off the phone I remarked about his description. We had a conversation about how difficult it is to describe depression. How hard it is to live with a debilitating lack of motivation. How you’d much rather go to sleep. I’m in no way happy that he is so far down in this hole. But, it was a little nice to have him finally understand a piece of what it’s like for me. Bipolar depression is so much…MORE…but I never want him to experience that.

My fear for myself is the time that will come when the stress leaves us. It’ll be gradual, we’ll barely notice it happening. But it will. And that is when things will get very hard for me. I’m great in an emergency. It’s the release afterwards that I can’t handle. I don’t know why, but my therapist and I are preparing.

That’s it for now. Hopefully, getting things in my brain moving will help me get back to my writing.

We’ll see.

Rant

I apologize in advance. This blog is rapidly becoming the only place in addition to therapy that I can vent and I need it badly right now.

If you’re a reader you know my step-son passed. He was 32 and died, alone, in the back of a Greyhound bus. He has a daughter who’s mother is the biggest piece of spoiled shit I have ever run across and I hate her with most every fiber of my being. She kept him away from us for the last two years and now wants us to love her and dote one her like SHE is the only one who is hurting. She wants child support from US. She is a narcissist with a mother and grandparents who dote on her and encourage her bullshit. My last nervous breakdown was brought on in large part by this little girl and if I never see her again it’ll still be too soon. But that means that we’ll never see our granddaughter again. Of course, we could suck up to the Douchecanoe and still never see that little girl again.

My MIL has COVID. Not her fault in the slightest. I blame this one squarely on the Governor of South Carolina. He won’t allow schools to have mask mandates. A teacher we know got sick from one of these sweet unmasked germy students and passed it along before she realized she had it. GET THE GODDAMNED VACCINE AND WEAR A FUCKING MASK. I literally cannot say it any clearer.

My ex-best-friend’s son’s wedding was this past weekend. I didn’t go. I couldn’t. 500 miles away over Labor Day weekend in the middle of a pandemic and the BFF and I haven’t been close in a while. She’s been ducking me for a long time and quite frankly I found out the date of the wedding before I got the invitation by accident. She never told me because we haven’t talked since last year. She showed at the funeral for 10 minutes before she “had to leave” which is what she does best. I rated a whole 10 minutes. She’s always sooo busy. That was the first I had spoken to her since last fall. It’s a long story and I’m not going to hash through it now. But I saw the wedding pics. I’ve known that little boy since he was 6 months old and I’m devastated to not see him get married. But I wasn’t traveling all that way because I knew I couldn’t get parked at the “left overs” table and watch my ex bff hang out with her new “ride or die” and not get upset. And her boy doesn’t need my drama on his big day. But, I’m devastated and I can’t stop crying.

My brother showed at the funeral too. And after he said he was sorry he launched into how shitty his life is. REALLY? That’s fun. I’m enjoying mine. Dick

I know there is more but I have therapy in an hour and I’m crying and I need to get myself together.

Aftermath

The only thing we don’t know at this point…is pretty much everything.

Well, we know he’s dead and he’s never coming back. We know that much.

But, what happened before? During? We have a few ideas of after, but not enough.

My stepson died on a bus, one of the biggies. He went to visit his mother and his siblings. He was alive at the stop in the state before his destination and dead or close to it at his destination. But the driver went on break and he didn’t make sure everyone was off beforehand. So my stepson lay there, undiscovered for 2 more hours.

When he was found, the paramedics were called and they restarted his heart. But not his breathing. A respirator breathed for him for the next two days. He was finally declared braindead. His organs and tissue were donated. He was cremated. Now he sits in the living room in an urn. Well, half of him is here, half is with his mother.

And that’s it. That’s what we know.

The death certificate says his cause of death is “pending”. We don’t know. His immediate tox screen showed a little pot and a little alcohol. We’re waiting for a lot of tests. And a lot of answers. I would imagine we’re going to need a lawyer if we really want to figure things out.

The girlfriend on the other hand is a big ole piece of problem right now. The girlfriend has the child. The only child that will ever come from my stepson. The granddaughter that we barely know because the girlfriend has kept us from my stepson and the granddaughter since the baby was about 6 months old. We were useful to her up until then. Once we stopped being useful to her we were cut out. We were fed lies (that we are just now figuring out were lies), oh the stories this one can whip up. Good Lord we were misled.

I am increasing my therapy to three times a week. I’m so sad. So depressed. My husband is broken. I don’t know if he’ll ever be right again.

Waiting

It’s been a couple days since we arrived in PA. When someone passes, you just want to get everything done as soon as possible. There is very little healing that happens when everyone is still under the specter of a funeral to get through. It’s too stressful. There are too many things that need to get done. There is always one person that hides out. There is always one person that wants to do everything. And there are some people who get stuck at the initial news of this persons death and is unable to move forward or accept what’s happening.

We have all that here. It’s ubiquitous.

My job today is to be here for my husband. So many other things have happened and I will get to all of it. But, not today. Today I will stand by my husband, hold his had when he can tolerate it, put my hand on his back when he can’t. Be there for him. One job.

I will deal with myself later