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Choose Life

Posted May 30 2009 10:12pm
Oregon State Hospital

Oregon State Hospital

The number one thing that I wish to say is that the kindness and support I’ve received here from my readers has meant so much to me. I printed out the comments and I carry them with me one the bus to and from the hospital. I am still struggling with agoraphobia, depression and panic disorder, so it helps me to have something to pull out and read when things feel helpless.

Number two, and this one was perhaps the hardest for me, was that I have recognized that I am very sick at this time and so I made the decision to ask Alex to place a paypal donate button on the sidebar. A few people have offered assistance and I have been hesitant to ask for help. I am trying to remember how good it feels for me to give and that others might feel the same. I am on FMLA right now with no concrete date as to when I’ll be well enough to work again. I went ahead with the application process for social security disability with the help of my therapist. The process takes 3-5 months and there is no guarantee that I’ll be approved. If anyone is willing and able to donate it would be greatly appreciated and I can promise that I will spend my life paying it forward.

I understand now my Mom’s comments about me being brave, and of her being proud. My Mom dedicated her life to various care giving jobs. She spent some time working as a CNA at the Oregon State Hospital, the building where One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest was filmed, and I realized that I’ve never really talked to her about that job. I used to think that was cool when I was a teenager, the fact that she worked in an insane asylum, but I am guessing that it was as far from cool as a job could be.

The treatment program I am in at a hospital here in Portland is the hardest thing that I have ever done. The primary focus at this stage is for the patients to work on the basics, a list of ten things to do to help us deal with our mental illness. I’ll type them out here later in case they might be useful for anyone else. It is a fairly simple list of ways in which we are to take care of ourselves i.e. eating frequent small meals, getting sufficient sleep, practicing different methods of relaxation etc. I imagine that this list is common knowledge for many people, but I never learned how to take care of myself and my coping mechanisms have been mainly self destructive my entire life. There are psychiatrists to diagnose and prescribe medications, but most of the one on one time is spent with the counselor we are appointed. The counselor comes up with a list of classes that he/she feels will be the most beneficial and we use these schedules to move from room to room as the hands on the clocks dictate. There are also group therapy sessions. It is heartbreaking seeing so many people suffering, and it is in my nature to want to reach out and help them. I have to remind myself that I am a patient there too, and that there is a staff to help them. I can offer up a few supportive words or even just a nod to acknowledge that I understand what they are saying . I also find myself moving the tissue box closer when someone breaks down and weeps because the first few days I was in there I ended up in tears several times, and no one should have to cry into their hands while a circle of strangers watches.

My mood goes up and down. I think that I am feeling better and then I find myself slipping again and it is disheartening. I am trying to recognize that this is a process. There are certain things that are off limits for discussion during groups. Vague references to past abuse are allowed, but no dwelling and no details. Admitting, for example, that you have a problem with self harm, such as cutting, is allowed, but no graphic details. It is believed that words such as those I describe can be triggering for the other patients. Some of the counselors will allow you to speak to them privately about past abuse, others believe that although it is normal for these memories to resurface , that they are not to be dealt with now as we are supposed to be focusing on the here and now and learning how to care for ourselves. I like my counselor. He is easy to talk to and very supportive.

My future is unwritten and that is OK. I am trying to realize that it’s not too late and that it  is actually a sign of strength for me to get up everyday and to try again rather than hiding in my house, or trying to escape by sleeping too much, or by trying to numb the pain with drugs and alcohol.

Thank you.

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