Life With The Plant

Life With The Plant

“It doesn’t have a high potential for abuse, and there are very legitimate medical applications. In fact, sometimes Marijuana is the only thing that works… It is irresponsible not to provide the best care we can as a medical community, care that could involve Marijuana. We have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States, and I apologize for my own role in that.”

—- Dr. Sanjay Gupta / Neurosurgeon

Where our society and medical professions have advanced from the days of lobotomies, bloodletting, hydrotherapies and many other dehumanizing ways of treating mental illness, many attitudes and stigmas still remain the same.  And still, there are those affiliated with religion that seem to think that mental illness is punishment for moral transgressions.  And yes, I have also been told that even though trauma induced, my alters are actually demons that do not deserve a voice but should be cast out instead.  I chalk a lot of this up to ignorance but still the target was me.

While living in Albuquerque Mel and I would come to realize, unbeknownst to us at the time, the complications that living with a mental illness would entail.  I had lived with severe depression and anxiety since childhood which few people from school days realize.  Even as a child and teenager I was well liked and was one of the favored clowns much like today.  Before we left Mississippi there was very clear evidence that something was definitely wrong.  Finally, breaking free of a 14 year abusive relationship just seemed to complicate life more than either of us could’ve ever imagined.

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Albuquerque was a place where we could break free from the overly conservative south to have a relationship and family, or so we thought.  With each passing day, though, my “quirkiness” would soon take on a life of its own.  By the time our oldest, Marshall, was born it was like the flood gates had been opened.  We were already seeing a very loyal and trusted therapist.  I was now losing time for days and weeks.  I was hallucinating and becoming increasingly suicidal and my behavior was becoming more erratic and at times very scary.  I had also started becoming very aggressive which led to horrible rages.  The scariest part about it all was that I had no memory of these things happening.

The level of trauma that I held within me was now bursting at the seams to a point that I couldn’t contain it.  The harder I tried, the more I failed.  I was seeing a psychiatrist and had run the gamut of psych meds and their subsequent unpleasant side effects trying to find some combination that could provide me, Mel and our new little baby some relief.  I had been given several different diagnoses that never quite seemed to fit.  And each time I would have to be hospitalized the re-traumatization just grew in intensity.

I eventually became toxic from all of the meds and was seen in the emergency room because the doctors thought that my kidneys were shutting down or that I might’ve had a stroke.  I was admitted to the hospital but the next morning the doctor that came to see me was yet another psychiatrist.  Again, it seemed, no one wanted to believe us.  I politely told him he could leave and that I was going to leave as well since nothing was being done and the bill was going higher and higher.  Mel and I left the hospital completely defeated and our trust in the system that was designed to help was becoming depleted.

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Mel would soon begin capturing some of my strange behaviors on video in order to show the doctors exactly what was happening.  Doctors and other professionals still didn’t seem to believe us despite the captured evidence.  No one believed that it was possible to have these types of  behaviors and  to not be able to remember doing them.  When Mel would show me the videos and tell me other things that I had done, I was appalled.  There’s no possible way that I was treating her or our new baby this way.   In some instances, after seeing the footage, I would collapse with grief.

After returning to my psychiatrist following the debacle in the hospital he said, “Hey, how about we try the medications again?”  I simply replied, “You’re crazier than I am if you think I’m going through that shit again.  I almost died from your pharmaceutical poisons.”  Psych meds didn’t help they seem to complicate and exacerbate my symptoms but most of the time left me feeling “robotic” and unable to feel anything. That’s when I was put on medical cannabis and it has been a lifesaver every since.  Anytime, I’ve had to be hospitalized for mental health issues I ALWAYS refuse the medications unless absolutely necessary like for sleep.  The meds have never helped me because most of the time I feel so bad from the side effects of the adjustment period that I’ll just quit taking them.  They simply made me a “chemistry experiment.”

For the first time in my life, I was able to have some type of quality of life while we searched endlessly for someone that could treat my complex traumatic past.  Cannabis has its limitations just like any other medications.  But, for once, something was actually working and “Big Pharma” just couldn’t compete with nature.  These days I don’t ask for permission or have the willingness to wait on an already corrupt government and the decisions of the narcissist clown that currently runs the country to tell me when it’s ok to have a quality of life.  I just simply do what I have to do to survive the best way I know how and most psych meds are still not a part nor will they ever be a part of that formula ever again.

I have taken much criticism for using cannabis as a medication to treat PTSD.  Again, it’s ignorance that seems to fuel these criticisms.  Until you have almost from synthetic medications then maybe an alternative way doesn’t seem feasible. Even as a recovering addict I have yet to have a single problem related to addiction with cannabis.  Hands down this plant has and is continuing to save my life from some incredibly debilitating symptoms.

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For some people cannabis seems to be the only answer.   I take a medication that can replace any combination of psych meds.  There are those times, though, when symptoms seem to just shoot through the medicinal ceiling of the plant.  And this is when I will usually have a backup plan for anxiety meds and sleep meds.  Some people mistakenly think that medical cannabis “cures” PTSD.  I politely tell them that it’s a medication just like any other medication to treat the paralyzing “symptoms” of the disorder only it’s much safer and works better for me.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t have the ability to “unbreak the plate” of the traumas that caused the PTSD to begin with.  You still have to do therapy.  You still can’t go around the issue to reach a resolution.  Painful as it might be the only way for that to happen is to work through it.  Cannabis helps with the very frightening flashbacks, migraines, insomnia, anxiety and any other unpleasant symptom that can lead to suicidal thoughts and behaviors.  So while the presidential pumpkin and his posse are busy playing politics and searching for the next horrible hairdo. I’ve got therapy and a lifetime of trauma to work through.  I and many others don’t have the luxury of being able to wait for them to get finished rolling around in the bed with “Big Pharma” and pass federal legislation so that this medication is legal everywhere. I, not anyone else, will die from my PTSD symptoms unless they’re controlled.  Sadly, many people, as well as, returning soldiers have died by their own hand because of lack of access to a medication that can save lives in so many different ways.

I will always back this highly stigmatized and demonized plant that has helped give me some type of quality of life despite some people’s ignorance about the topic.  My wife will tell you that being put on the cannabis program has saved my life.  And even though functionality still fluctuates heavily sometimes from the disorder itself, it’s still so much better than it could be and has been thanks to a plant called exactly what it is….weed.  Cannabis has had such a positive impact on my life that living without it seems inconceivable.  And the only side effects I have to worry about these days are sleepy, happy and hungry.

#Thispuzzledlife

LGBT And DID

LGBT and DID

4.3.2015

“Gender preference does not define you. Your spirit defines you.” 
― P.C. Cast, Awakened

I’m not going to get on a political soapbox about LGBT rights.  The fact is that, people aren’t going to change my mind based on their beliefs. I’m not going to change their mind about my beliefs.  Honestly, being a member of the LGBT community and having DID leaves me in the minority of the minorities.  Do I care?  Some areas yes, but the thoughts don’t control my life.  Does the idea of refusing service to someone based on who they love concern me? Yes and I don’t believe that it’s right at all.  However, no one’s opinions about my life and marriage pay my bills, sleep in my bed or raise our son.

My mother gave me some valuable advice my whole life that even as a child I was able to quote.  When I would complain about something not being fair, she would always say, “There are a lot of things in life that aren’t fair.  The sooner you learn to live with them, the better off you’ll be.”  To me, that translates to a very common theme in 12-Step communities which simply means, ‘Living life on life’s terms.’  Abuse is the exception to the rule.  Abuse is never ok.

If my wife and son were to go into a restaurant and be refused service because of the makeup of our family, sure I would probably make a scene by making my voice heard.  I have no problem defending my family at all costs.  Chances are after a verbal lashing from yours truly, the person who refused the service might actually think before making such comments.  I don’t know.  Maybe try checking with one of the employees at our local library to see what he says.  Anyway, my wife and I were taught something even more valuable while growing up in the deep south….the art of southern cooking.

 One thing I know without a doubt is that, I’m gay and very happy being my authentic sexual self.  I was very unhappy living a life that wasn’t me as a straight female.  Some people, including family, have an issue with me being married to a woman even though I was being abused by my ex-husband and very unhappy.  You know what…it truly is their issue and not mine.  I’m happy being with the woman I love and being treated with love and respect. I don’t regret one day since I ‘came out’ even though I, too, have lost friends and family as a result.

I found my soul mate in one of the most chaotic times in my life.  We love each other as much and more than we first met.  We have weathered storm, after storm, after storm mostly on our own.  So, for us, our relationship was do or die.  Melody is truly my balance.  Since my diagnosis of DID, life for us has still remained chaotic even when our personal life has been ok.  Life keeps pounding us with more and more.  What I do know about us as a couple and as a family is that we are incredibly resilient and strong.

Our lives on a daily basis don’t even fit the ‘our plate’s full’ analogy.  ‘Our plate runneth over and over and over’ seems to be more accurate.  If you need a better description, think of an organization that’s collecting money for some charity and they have the thermometer that’s colored red as the collection of funds climbs.  When they reach the top, the red starts spewing out the top.  Yea, that’s a more accurate picture of how full our plate usually has been for several years now.  Mel and I took a proactive approach 6 years ago to start couples counseling as a way to maintain a healthy relationship.  How valuable these therapists have been for us as a couple during all of this chaos.  Sometimes, it has truly felt like our couples’ counseling has been the only thread holding us together.  She sees her therapist. We see our couples’ therapist. And someday soon I’ll have my own therapist again.  Truthfully, I would just like to take a break from individual therapy until our new baby boy is born to give my ‘system’ time to chill.

People can have their opinions about gay rights and that’s fine.  I also have a choice whether or not to be a one member audience as well.  Sometimes I choose to jump into an already futile and  very argumentative effort.  Nothing really ever gets accomplished but the usually equally aggressive insults.  In the big scheme of things, everyone has an opinion and thinks that they’re right.  Laws are changed by the government not me.

I’ll tell you what the most important thing in my life right now…potty training the 3 year old.  We also have friends and family in need.  I’m looking for a new therapist.  And daily, I deal with the horrors that I’ve experienced my whole life.  I do my best to try and put the pieces of my puzzled life back together.  It’s not that the topic of gay rights isn’t important to me.  It’s just that, at this particular time in my life, other things take precedence.  I’ve got my wife and son and no government or food establishment can take that from me.  Most of the time I just roll my eyes and shake my head.

Every single day the evidence of my life of secretive abuse floods my mind and body.   I fight like hell to get out of the bed and to try to challenge my fears and anxieties about life.  Life isn’t easy being gay or having DID.  Both have their own stigmas and bent belief systems by society.  Have your own beliefs and opinions, but you can’t touch our rainbow bubble.

And since the uproar about the pizza establishment has become such a big deal….I don’t feed my genitals pizza anyway.

#Thispuzzledlife

Robin Williams

Robin Williams

8.13.14

“You must strive to find your own voice. Because the longer you wait to begin,

the less likely you are to find it at all.”

Dead Poets Society

I have read and listened to a lot of information about the death of Robin Williams.  I’ve seen a lot of mental health advocates, once again rise surrounding stigmas and mental health.  Why has his death affected me to the point that my soul hurts?  Let’s see….I’ve been in some pretty dark places in my lifetime.  I could always count on someone like Robin Williams to get me out of that dark place.  Just the shock of his death and the way he died by his own hand, has brought back many thoughts, feelings and emotions.

While a short stint as an EMT, I saw enough to last me forever. I would do it again. But, there’s consequences from doing this type of work every day. One such occasion includes a suicide that I responded to while working on the ambulance.  Everything about that scene, I remember like it was yesterday.  A murder scene with all of the sights, sounds and smell reminders are enough to have me feeling like I’m having a heart attack.  Suicides of people that I’ve known throughout my life and never knowing why but understanding how they reached that point of hopelessness circulate my brain.

I have been forced to sit with these kind of feelings most of my life without many people knowing.  After all, we are brought up in a society that wants us to look great even when things aren’t ok.  I’ve realized that sometimes the people that make us laugh the hardest seem like they have the greatest scars that people seldom see.  Some scars aren’t hidden like the ones on my arms. The scars on my arms are ones that say that I’ve been through a battle. But, the scars on my heart and mind say that I’ve been through and are still going through a war.

Just the topic of suicide can make me physically ill. This topic has affected me in so many ways both personally and professionally.  Everyone has “secrets” that are not told. Society likes to judge and think that suicide is the ‘easy way out’ or ‘selfish.’  I’m not saying in any way, shape, form or fashion that one’s own personal belief, at that moment, isn’t distorted. But, I believe that most people who commit suicide do it to protect their families from knowing the truth or being considered a “drain” on the family. This isn’t every reason my any means.  Suicide, from their view, could be an act of love.  These families seldom know for sure. This is why death, in this way, is so difficult for the remaining family.

One can only speculate now, the real reason that Robin William committed suicide.  However, knowing that he was affected by a known mental illness, I understand how tiring it can be.  I’ve always said, “Everyone has a limit.”  How far down does yours go?

I’ll leave this tribute to Robin Williams and the field of therapy that I saw on Facebook today.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ryan-thomas-neace-/requiem-for-a-therapist-a_b_5670467.html

#Thispuzzledlife

Social Stigma

Social Stigma

8.12.14

“The loneliest people are the kindest.  The saddest people smile the brightest.  The most damaged people are the brightest.  All because they never want to see others suffer the way they do.” 

—–Anonymous

The topic of Robin Williams committing suicide really saddens me.   He was a man that has always been able to lift me up with a nice dose of humor.  I don’t know the details to this or any other celebrities suicides.  But, I do know the anguish that comes from living with a mental disorder due to circumstances beyond one’s control.  Maybe, Robin William’s bipolar disorder symptoms were purely biological?  I highly doubt it. There are probably images of things done and said to him by one or many perpetrators.  These are the types of things that can keep a person away for hours.  It’s torment on the mind and the body.  Once the physical symptoms evolve, there starts somewhat of a decline in functioning even on a seemingly minute level.  A comment I read on social media was, “He always appeared so happy.”

First of all, he’s a celebrity and is held to a higher standard. We live in a society where everything is about image not truth.  Most victims of abuse continue to protect their abusers out of fear.  Likewise, most individuals who have a mental illness, stay quiet due to social stigma.  So, the attitude seems to be more of a “let them get the help they need. Just don’t mention anything about it so no one knows.”

Society has somehow labeled everyone with a mental illness as “dangerous.”  Depending on what the particular diagnosis is seems to determine how one might react.  People already have in their minds what “bipolar” “depression” “anxiety disorders” “substance abuse disorders” and/or ”schizophrenia” “personality disorders” look like.  So, for example…..anyone who has bipolar disorder is going to be seemingly hyper one moment and depressed the next moment all while in the same conversation with you.  Not everything is as it seems.  The information most people have on specific mental illnesses is the direct contact of a family and/or friend. And, of course, the media which seldom presents things unbiased on any topic.  Very true, that there are mentally ill individuals who are dangerous. But, many walk among us quietly having never been diagnosed or been able to get or afford treatment. There are also those individuals with mental illness that are not dangerous which represents the majority.

I consider my wife and I to have a really good policy for outpatient mental health benefits.  However, due to specific needs, our insurance won’t cover trauma treatment because they don’t see the need for it.  Really? I asked that poor person on the phone, “How are you able to sleep at night?” Yea….the privilege of being able to talk to our insurance company has been permanently disabled.  Eating disorders, PTSD due to military service and substance abuse disorders are paid for with no problem. I had someone from a treatment center that asked me, “Have you ever been in a war?”  My response was, “Ma’am, I didn’t serve our country. But, I’ve been in a war the majority of my life. Doesn’t that count for something? I did nothing to deserve what was done to me.”  “Yea, I’m sure it’s tough to live like that but you don’t meet criteria for our program.”  This is the typical answer we receive.  Diagnoses are great for insurance billing but somewhat useless in society. All it seems to do has been to cause a nationwide panic to keep mental illness a secret.

If you have a question about a particular disorder, look it up or ask someone with the disorder.  Not your moody neighbor that waves and cusses you out in the same breath. Then, you have decided that in all your education and classes on diagnosing that you have never taken, lead you to the diagnosis of bipolar disorder.  Don’t just depend on any type of media to educate you about mental illness. Look up scholarly journals not Wikipedia, and look at the studies that have been done with individuals with particular disorders.  Hollywood’s movies are designed to be dramatic and make money.  Those of us with mental illness just want to learn how to live a comfortable life.

I would imagine that even though, Robin Williams, had more money then I’ll ever see in my lifetime. None of it was bigger than his disorder or his trauma.  Everything you do and/or say affects someone either positively or negatively.  Be especially sensitive around children because, what you do and how you make them feel will last forever. Everyone has a breaking point and Robin Williams found his.

#Thispuzzledlife