Mental Hospitals

OK, I have to keep posting or I’ll never get through this.  I went to see my Dad at the mental hospital.  It was kind of scary but not as bad as I expected.  The front desk was all plexiglass with a speaker to talk through and a small slit for passing paper.  I was able to pass his medication bottles through to them and they were supposed to get them to the nurse’s station.  I got a phone call this morning that he has been moved to another facility.  They want to put him on psychotropic drugs, which they needed my permission for.  (Why?)  And why does it take so long for him to see a doctor in a mental health facility?

Argh.  If only I could have gotten him to sign off on power of attorney and a health care proxy before this happened.  I tried but he was too stubborn.  There’s time, there’s time, he would say.  Doctor says I have to live to be a 100.  While he might just do that, what kind of shape will he be in at 100?

I think they told him he had a mental breakdown so that’s what he believes.  I think he had another mini-stroke (maybe not so mini) or a seizure.  He’s lost about the last 10 years of his life.  He doesn’t know where he is (what state) and he doesn’t know how old he is, but he remembers me and his other children.  He remembers the past well, he is just confused about the present.

If he is competent enough to sign a HIPPA release, is he competent enough to sign a power of attorney?  Sometimes I wish I was a lawyer, even though I know I would hate the job.

I guess I need to go now because all I am doing is stopping to pace while I write this.  Stupid me forgot to pack extra Klonopin and it’s catching up to me.  So many things to do and I don’t know where to begin.  Wish me luck.

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Dad needs help

My father has suffered some kind of stroke or a break with reality.  They took him into a mental hospital on Saturday.  I flew 1500 miles (OK, I don’t really know how many it was, it’s just a guess but you get the point) and thanks to HIPPA I can’t get any information on him.  I don’t know where he is or what I can do to help. (Sometimes HIPPA sucks.)  I am waiting now for a call back from the hospital.

Worst of all, I tried for years to get Dad to fill out health care proxy forms and durable power of attorney.  Now that I need them, I don’t have them.  I am on his HIPPA release for the VA but that doesn’t give me any rights at any other hospital.  After his 72 hours are up, I don’t know what they will do with him.  For that matter, I don’t know what I will do with him.

I’m a bit nervous about going to a psych hospital.  I’ve never been to one.  DH says it’s just like a regular hospital (his mom used to work at one) but I’ve always been afraid they will lock me up in one.  Fortunately, I’ve only ever been that bad once in my life and I was able to talk my way out of it.

Anyway, just a short note to update you all on my suddenly chaotic life.  Please send good thoughts and/or prayers my way (and Dad’s way).  I would greatly appreciate it.

Thanks.

I’m not such a bad person

I got to thinking today that I’m not such a bad person.  I donate to charity when I can (Salvation Army today) and I try to be nice to people in general.  I say please and thank you. I wish people a good weekend or a happy holiday.  I’ve got a lot more patience than I give myself credit for and I try to do good.  Sometimes I don’t succeed at that because I am afraid. 

Although I can be negative, cynical and a pessimist, I’m generally not mean.  I try to be a supportive wife, friend, daughter and aunt, although my siblings and I are at odds.  I like to help people; I especially like to help people understand things like math or science.

My self-esteem is low, but I still think I’m not a bad person. (Ask me a different day and I may give you a different answer.) Sometimes I think about what it would be like to have a healthy self-esteem.  I’ve always worried that by working on my self-esteem I would become over-confident and perhaps narcissistic.  Supposedly, that’s not the case, but since we are going to be working on my self-esteem in therapy, I’ll let you know how it goes.

Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that for today, at least, I don’t think I’m a bad person. 🙂

Mentally Ill and Pregnant

No, I’m not pregnant. My niece is. The same one that I wrote about in Runaway and Runaway Part II.  She has an odd diagnosis, basically everything on the extreme end of the spectrum: bipolar, schizophrenic, schizoeffective.  She is probably not all of those things but she is bipolar and does have visual and audio hallucinations.  She’s been unmedicated for over 6 months.  She started birth control pills a few months ago and then quit them.  She is 24, in college, unmarried, and still with the loser she was with before when I wrote the aforementioned posts.

All of that aside, she is an unmedicated, mentally ill, pregnant young woman.  Does anyone have any advice they can share on this subject?  If I can give her any suggestions to help her through this difficult time, I would greatly appreciate it.  One friend has already been kind enough to share her thoughts and suggestions, but I wanted to open up the suggestion box a little more by asking all of my readers for advice.

Naturally, I am very worried about her.  I wish she had waited until after she finished college and was settled into a stable relationship before getting pregnant.  I fear she won’t ever finish college.  I fear he will leave her again and she will become a single mother.  She already lives on medicaid, disability, and food stamps and barely gets by.  I fear post-postpartum depression the most.

Any thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.  Thank you!

The Cost of Mental Health

I’ve written a post on the costs of mental health on A Canvas of the Minds WordPress blog, which is a multi-author blog about mental illness. I can’t figure out how to reblog the post here, so you’ll just have to go over there to read it. Sorry about that, but there are lots of other really cool posts for you to check out while you are there. 🙂

The Cost of Mental Health.

Enjoy!

-MM

A couple of down days

OK, I’m having a couple of down days here. Tuesday was great as I spent it with my BFF and we had loads of fun! But yesterday and today it was back to the job hunt, and that has me down a bit. There just aren’t jobs out there for me.  I’m going to a conference in August, and hopefully something there will work, but mostly I’m SOL.  I am still holding on to hope for a few of the teaching positions I’ve applied for but I’m getting nervous as August, and the school year, is fast approaching.  I realize that it’s just a numbers game and it only takes 1 success.  But what if that one success doesn’t come until after unemployment runs out?  I am half-way through unemployment, and since unemployment in my state is dropping, the tier 2 and tier 3 federal government unemployment won’t be available.  So I will be on my own.

OK, so I figured I would lower my standards and apply for any kind (within reason) of job after unemployment runs out.  I don’t need a PhD to type letters or file forms, but I have done it before.  It’s depressing work and last time led me to a suicidal ledge, but hopefully this time I can keep it together.  Hopefully, it won’t get that far.  Hopefully, I will have a job soon.  I am so over sitting at home.

I wish I could have written a novel or done something more productive during all this time off, but it was time well spent working on me.  Getting myself stable is no easy feat, and I think I should give myself some credit for it.  Even though I’m having a couple of down days, I don’t think this is going to turn into a mood episode.  I hope not.  I need to keep myself upbeat in case something good comes up.  There’s nothing worse than blowing a job interview because you are depressed.  (And believe me, I’ve done this several times before.)

Another thing that has me a bit down is my schizoaffective niece – Persephone.

She called me in a panic yesterday and asked me to co-sign on an apartment so she would have someplace to live.  I told her I had to discuss it with DH first.  She said she would call me back.  That was 12:30 yesterday afternoon.  I’ve not heard from her since.  When she does call back, I will have to tell her that I just can’t be a co-signer.  First, I don’t have a job, so I wouldn’t qualify because I have no income.  I think she would understand that.  But on a more personal level, even if I could qualify, this just isn’t something I could do right now.  I can’t make that kind of financial commitment to someone else when I am struggling to keep my own head above water.  Co-signing on a lease makes you liable for everything that other person does – if they trash the place, you are responsible, if they default or get evicted, it shows up on your credit score.  No, I can’t take that kind of risk.  She is un-medicated, unstable, and I know nothing about her boyfriend other than he appears to be irresponsible.  If I was working and making a $120k a year, I would probably do it.  But not now, not in this situation.

So I am upset with her – she only calls me when she wants something.  She isn’t going to see a doctor for either her mental or physical health.  She is acting irresponsible (not surprising since she is a manic state), and spending money on geckos that they don’t know if they can take care of.  They had one month of free rent, but instead of using that month to find their next place to live, they spent it having fun.  There’s nothing wrong with fun, but you have to take care of the real world too.  (I’m one to talk, but we aren’t talking about me right now.)  So instead, they paid for a week in a hotel while they look for a place to live.  Then I get a panicked phone call and now nothing.  She’s 24, in love, in a manic state with schizophrenic hallucinations.

It is so frustrating when you watch someone you love throw their life away on partying and bad relationships.  She had such a promising future when she graduated community college, but then she took a year off, and now she is in a mess.  She had been stable on medications for nearly 10 years, but she got sick and tired of the side effects and the fact that she couldn’t go out drinking while taking them.  So she stopped taking her meds.  First the Lithium, then the Seroquel.  She is allergic to Lamictal and Trileptal, but doesn’t keep very good medical records so she doesn’t know what she has tried and what she hasn’t, or what makes her sick and what doesn’t.  “I’ve tried everything,” she said.  I know that feeling, but it’s probably not true.  I don’t know.  There’s nothing I can do to help her.  I don’t like feeling helpless.

And I think that is the reason for my melancholy.  I feel helpless.  I feel helpless to help my niece.  I feel helpless in the job hunt.  Now that I’ve identified the problem, I can work on it.

 
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