Dissociative Identity Disorder

Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA:

I LOVE THIS POST!!!! You Must Read It.  I found it on Kat’s blog.

Originally posted on Heathers Helpers:

Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) is portrayed in the media as some sort of wacky, wild, really cool to watch phenomenon. If that isn’t their angle? They are usually discussing the controversy of the diagnoses. I understand all that but I feel that perhaps if I share what it means to me, it will take the confusion out of it for some people. I can try right?

Everyone has multiple personalities/identities. Yes, even you.
If you stop to think about it, you are not the same when out with your friends as you would be if you were out with your children. You are different with your spouse than you would be with your parents. You can become professional at work then transform to a carefree spirit when you go out for an evening with your best buddy. Even your pets get a different side of you. Yeah… I know all…

View original 609 more words

‘No Human Involved’: Filmmaker PJ Starr Discusses Her Documentary Telling Marcia Powell’s Story

Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA:

A sorely needed project, featured by Ruth Jacobs on her brilliant blog. I hope whoever is able will click the indiegogo button and help this amazing project get off the ground.

Originally posted on Soul Destruction:

PJ Starr Photograph by Mike Shipley taken during filming

PJ Starr – picture taken during filming
Photo credit: Mike Shipley

Can you tell me about your current project No Human Involved?

In 2009 my friend and colleague Cris Sardina (who is now the co-coordinator of the Desiree Alliance) sent me an email about the death of Marcia Powell in Perryville Prison outside of Phoenix, Arizona. Marcia had been serving a 27 month sentence for solicitation of prostitution and corrections officers had left her out in the sun in a metal cage in searing heat until she collapsed. Soon after, in hospital her life was ended when the Director of Arizona Department of Corrections removed her from life support.

Cris Sardina of Desiree Alliance holding pictures of Marcia Powell Photo credit: PJ Starr

Cris Sardina of Desiree Alliance holding pictures of Marcia Powell
Photo credit: PJ Starr

After reading about what happened, Marcia’s story was always with me.

Later in 2010 at the Filmmakers’ Collaborative at the Maysles Institute in Harlem, NYC, I…

View original 1,694 more words

Enter The Twins, Pain and Aggravation

First I sincerely apologize to everybody to whom I’ve promised various things.  Life is not going in anything remotely resembling a straight line.  I feel caught up in a whirlwind–no, more like the vortex of water flushing down a toilet.

I don’t have a toilet, but other people usually do, if they live in developed nations.

Dad just got home yesterday from the nursing home where mom dumped placed him for six days while she went to visit her relatives.  Dad did not enjoy it, and I ran myself ragged going back and forth to the nursing home, which fortunately is not far away, to my house, to the store to get him things, to therapy an hour and a half away….

Dad was discharged from the nursing home Friday at noon.  Mom came home in the evening.

I settled in for some deep Shabbat rest yesterday, but my phone rang at ten a.m.: It was Mom, sobbing that Dad had fallen and blood was coming out of his head and nose.  He was unconscious but seemed to be breathing.  She had called 911.  Shit.

CALL HOSPICE NOW!  I screamed into the phone.  We are not supposed to call 911 without calling Hospice first, but she panicked and did it anyway.  Now we would be covered up by the fucking millions of Keystone Cops that stand in place of an Emergency Medical Service here in West Bumfuck.

I grabbed my knapsack, which serves as my 24 hour kit as well as a purse, threw some food in my bewildered pup’s dish, and ran out the door hoping to beat the ambulance to my parents’ house.  Dad was on the floor, unconscious and bleeding, just like she said.

He looked like he was in the process of checking out, and I didn’t blame him a bit.  But I did lean down to his ear and softly sang, “Shma, Yisra’el, Adon-ai Elo-heinu, Adon-ai Ehad,” which is the central prayer of the Jewish faith:

“Hear O Israel, Adon-ai is your G-d, Adon-ai is ONE.”

Well, damn me if he didn’t start singing it with me!  He was almost drowned out by my mother’s loud sobs, but I heard him, and he started cussing me out for leaning on him, which I might have been.  I sat up and he still cussed at me for leaning on him, so I knew that he was very much alive, although in rough shape.

After a while I heard the screeching siren shriek of the meat-wagon, driven by a team of bozos with spanking new uniforms.  They looked like milkmen on a spree.

They were planning to strap Dad to a backboard, but I talked them out of it, citing his spinal stenosis, so they scratched their heads for a spell and then brought their ambulance gurney into the house and strapped him onto it.  At least it had something that passed for a mattress.

The trouble began when they tried to get him out of the house.

My parents’ house is not built for ambulance gurneys.  A steel spiral staircase blocks access to the only egress in the house, and the bozos couldn’t figure out how to get out, since they had raised the gurney up on its pneumatic legs, and it wouldn’t pass by the stairs anymore.  So instead of lowering the gurney to the ground and picking it up and over the stair rail, they tried to pick it up with the bed part four feet off the ground.  So the idiots actually lifted this thing, with my dad on top of it, over the railing, grazing the ceiling and taking a layer of paint off the stair rail.

I tried to move my car out of the driveway, because I had a funny feeling we were not done with the Keystone Cops.  I was right.

As I was backing up the dirt-road hill that stands in for a driveway, I looked in the rear-view mirror, and glimpsed the gigantic red nose of the county Heavy Rescue truck.  Trapped.  Shit.  Hit the parking brake and cut the engine, since I was out of gas and running on fumes already.

I got out and said “Hey” to the driver and he said “Hey” to me.  Introductions over with, I advised him that heavy rescue was not needed, as my dad was already in the ambulance.  He cut his eyes at me and said that first of all he wasn’t Heavy Rescue, he was just driving their truck, but since he was a First Responder and had heard it over the radio he was obligated to go and check things out.

Suit yourself, I told him, but you’re going to have to move your vehicle so I can get out, and so the ambulance can get out, because there is no more room in the driveway.

Well, the Heavy Rescue truck backed up the hill, spewing gravel, and tried to find someplace to turn his rig around.  I admit that I smirked a little when he backed right into the ditch you have to watch out for on that dirt road.  I backed around him and got onto my own road after negotiating the tricky spot where the road does a wiggle going over a creek.

I’m too tired now to write anymore, so you’ll have to stay tuned.

 

Depression Comix by Clay: Childhood Depression

Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA:

Clay seems to know my life…hey, maybe I’m not alone!

Originally posted on depression comix (WP.com):

depcom.200.col.400px

flattr this!

Read at depression comix at http://wp.me/s3zYhM-200

View original

Overwhelmed

Driving the hour-and-a-half into Asheville for my weekly therapy appointment, I pulled into my favorite coffee spot.  Looked around for the backpack that serves as my purse.  Not where it normally is.  Searched the car.  No backpack.  No wallet, no driver’s license, no cash, no credit card, and worst of all, NO COFFEE!  And no shopping for Shabbat dinner, no Thai food, no nothing that I usually do on Thursdays.

A rush of emotions fluttered by.  I thought about factors that might have contributed to this grave omission.

Oh, it could be that if I had my “stuff” then at the time I would be heading home, a tree would have fallen on top of my car and I would be instantly killed, so the Deity made my pack temporarily invisible so I would have to come home early, thus avoiding the tree.  I saw that happen once.  The tree fell on this woman’s car, crushing it and killing her immediately.

To be honest, that doesn’t sound half bad to me, and I found myself once more angry at G-d for keeping me here.  That is a recurring them in my life and always has been, no matter what kind of wonderful person I am and no matter who fervently wishes I would stay.  Passive suicidality, I would call it.

On the other hand, it could simply be exhaustion.  My brain is thoroughly addled by, oh, just everything.  Dad, Mom, war, growing anti-Semitism everywhere, you name it–I am exhausted and overwhelmed by it all.

I am grateful that nobody is lobbing bombs at my barn (did I mention the “living in a barn with no bathroom” part?).  I feel sorry for the Arabs whose houses are rubble, and once again I’m mystified that the common person cannot look at a picture of a demolished mosque, dome intact, and realize that if it had been bombed from above, the dome would have been destroyed.  Ballistics 101.  Not hard to figure out that the building IMPLODED, meaning that it was sitting on a cache of explosives.  Not hard to see, but people don’t often look at things with a critical eye.

I apologize to people who have sent me manuscripts and interviews, and I have not done anything with them yet.  That goes for emails, too.  I know I’ll get back on my feet pretty soon, but for now….I’m knackered, done in, overwhelmed, and exhausted.  I’m going to bed.

Blessings to all, and to all a Good Night.

Through A Glass Darkly

Dear blogging friends, I am going to publish something that may upset you.  Please believe me, I am not a person who judges others according to their race, religion, national origin, or beliefs….as long as those beliefs do not include racism, religious intolerance, espousal of genocide, hatred, murder, or the worship of martyrdom.

Unfortunately, the Jewish People have been on the receiving end of all of the negative things I’ve listed above.  The mere fact that we still exist is a miracle.

According the the Pew Research Religion and Public Life Project, the world religion landscape looks like this:

Christians 31.5%

Muslims 23.2%

Unaffiliated 16.3%

Hindus 15%

Buddhists 7.1%

Folk Religionists 5.9%

Other Religions 0.8%

Jews 0.2%

That’s right, folks, Jews make up 0.2% of world religions!  Yet not one day goes by that the Jews are not in the news.  Jews in the News!

Jews make up 22% of Nobel Laureates, even though we make up 0.2% of the world’s religious affiliation.

It is my opinion that the overwhelming success of the Jewish People in education, business, academics, medicine, and survival of the endless persecutions we have endured, have made us even more hated by those who would wipe us off the face of the earth.

Now, Israel.

First of all I must make a few remarks about the recent (i.e., not Biblical) history of the connection of the Land of Israel and the Jewish People.

In the year 70 of the Common Era, the very same Romans who killed not only Jesus, but hundreds of other Jewish martyrs–in the year 70 of the Common Era (Jews reckon time differently), the Romans sacked Jerusalem and drove the Jews into the hills.  In the year 640 C.E., the Moslem Conquest replaced the Romans, and the Jews were faced with forced conversion, death, or eviction from The Land.

Most fled, many chose forced conversion rather than leave the beloved Land, and some disappeared into crevices and caves.  They never left.  They are still there, but now live openly in their Land.

The Land then underwent a period of serial conquests by Christians and various Caliphates, finally settling into the Ottoman Empire, ceding to the British Empire, and finally becoming the Jewish State in 1948.

Even though the State of Israel began with a vicious war and has been at war ever since, Jews from other Middle Eastern countries such as Morocco, Egypt, Algiers, Iraq, Iran, Syria, etc. etc. made their way back home–some voluntarily, and many because of forced evictions from their home countries, which became one by one Islamized and forced the Jews out violently.  In fact, some 900,000 Middle Eastern Jews were evicted starting in the late 1800s and continuing until now, when the few staunch holdouts are finally being forced out or outright killed.

Back to Israel.  Did you know that tiny Israel, the size of the state of Rhode Island (the smallest state in the United States), is surrounded by 23 Moslem countries?  Take a look at the map on the Pew Foundation map to get an idea of what that looks like.

You must understand, we are a thorn in the Moslem Middle East’s side!  What is this tiny state full of historic enemies doing right in the middle of a solid bloc of Moslem countries?

And to add insult to injury, we (Israel) have taken in several other ethnic groups that are unwelcome and have been severely persecuted in Moslem countries: Baha’i, Druze, Christians (of course!),  and although no one wants to admit it, the Bedouin, who were at one time a migratory people with their own belief system and language, who now live in Israel (not without their own set of problems, but they have the same rights as anyone else in Israel).

Now we come to the Palestinian People and the awful conflicts we have.

Everyone who does not understand the fundamental differences between the Palestinians and the Jews likes to point to the 0.2% and shout, “Why can’t you just get along?”

This is why.

Le’Chayim!  To Life!  We will live and not die, even if we must fight and fight to keep on living.  Le’Chayim!

Talking Shop

I don’t know whether you’ve noticed, but I’ve noticed, that I haven’t been posting.

Lord knows I’ve wanted to.

Blogging serves many purposes for me, as I’m sure it does for you: catharsis, self-expression, connection, community, dialogue, intellectual challenge, exercise and sharpening of one’s writers’ craft teeth, etc.

But: things around here have been less than peachy.

Dad had another stroke a week ago, was in a coma for a couple of days.  Then he began his struggle back into This World.  He’s not quite as “with it” as he was before–and he wasn’t too “with it” then either–but sometimes he knows where he is.  Thankfully he still knows who I am.

While we thought he was dying or about to die, there was a certain amount of drama (really?!) on the part of my mother, who actually hugged me and wept on my shoulder for an uncomfortable while.  I do feel sorry for her, but not that sorry.  But it’s not as if I would push my mother away while she’s having a dramatic sad moment, or a sadly dramatic moment, being about to lose her husband of sixty-six years.

Life is now a patchwork of caregivers and nurses coming in and out of the house.  That’s good, because I cannot help with physical needs other than the food-related ones.  I can prepare food, and help him eat it; and if he’s too “out of it” to get his food into his mouth, I can feed him.  Some days he’s able to feed himself, and some days he’s just too exhausted.  He’s hungry, but he just can’t manage the eating part.  I never realized how complex the act of eating is, until this experience of watching Dad’s stepwise loss of the mechanical ability to manipulate food, even with his hands, let alone utensils.

Once it’s in his mouth he can usually chew it up and swallow, but sometimes he needs his food “blenderized” and sometimes he just can’t eat at all.  I know that’s part of dying.  And sometimes he absolutely refuses to eat, and that’s part of dying too.

We try to keep him hydrated, at least.  He’s on a medicine that decreases the fluid in his blood, taking some stress off his heart, which does make him feel better but causes increased urination, so getting the fluids into him is important.  I know, it seems paradoxical: on one hand, taking the fluids out, on the other, shoving them in.

The other day we were sitting alone together, watching the afternoon coming in through the brilliant greens of the forest canopy, and he said:  “You and I need to go up into the woods and talk shop.”

I know what he meant.

We have always been best buddies, even when times weren’t so good, even though he served as my own private “Flying Monkey” who tried to explain away my mother’s evil ways.  I always came back, for my dad.  Here I am!

Just about every night, starting from…when?  Maybe after I got back off the road, when I was seventeen–every night when I was visiting and would be staying over, my dad and I would sit up late drinking whiskey and “talking shop.”  We would solve the world’s problems, solve problems for worlds that were entirely theoretical at the time but in fact exist now, and dig deep into authors, poetry, philosophical genres, the nature of human existence, art (of course), artists (same), relationships of all sorts….and now and then my mother would stick her head down the stairway to ask us to please “keep it down.”

I do salute her for allowing us those times together and not throwing a monkey-wrench into things, which she is quite capable of doing.  She knew that those late-night rap sessions were sacred.

The only time my dad and I ever got into a shouting match was oh, around 3 am when we were both three sheets to the wind, and somehow or other we fell into the topic: “Does God have a sense of humor?”

He staunchly and solidly maintained that God does NOT have a sense of humor.  The Holocaust.

I equally stubbornly held that God DOES have a sense of humor, because WE exist and that is the ridiculous proof!

Neither of us would budge, and having put a good dent in a fifth of Bourbon whiskey, the volume worked its way up until we were actually shouting at each other in earnest.  Luckily my mother yelled down the stairs for us to “knock it off down there.”  We sheepishly toasted “to Life” and stumbled off to our respective beds.  We never did resolve that point.

So, we need to go up into the woods and talk shop.  Some more.  Soon.

Healing with humour-Weapons of math destruction

Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA:

Thanks to Kat for the reblog on her site. On my mobile, can’t link to her blog…:( but this is sooooo funny for us geeks!

Originally posted on Multi-Me:

At New York’s Kennedy airport today, an individual later discovered to be a public school teacher was arrested trying to board a flight while in possession of a ruler, a protractor, a setsquare, a slide rule, and a calculator.

At a morning press conference, the Attorney general said he believes the man is a member of the notorious al-gebra movement. He is being charged by the FBI with carrying weapons of math instruction.

“Al-gebra is a fearsome cult,” the Attorney general said. “They desire average solutions by means and extremes, and sometimes go off on tangents in a search of absolute value. They use secret code names like “x” and “y” and refer to themselves as “unknowns”, but we have determined they belong to a common denominator of the axis of medieval with coordinates in every country.

“As the Greek philanderer Isosceles used to say, there are 3 sides to…

View original 176 more words

Today Is Another Day: Rapid Cycling

As you may remember, yesterday I was painting my toenails in the middle of the night.

Alas, that was not to last.  I woke up this morning with a feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach.

After I finally went to sleep last night, with the aid of more Seroquel, I woke up a bunch of times because my arms were numb and tingling.

Fuck, you know, this has been going on in one form or another for several years.   I’ve been writing it off as probably due to my arthritic collar bone, but this is different.

My medical experience gives me all kinds of terrible fears.  MS is the main one these days.

I remember the day in medical school when they taught us all the bad things that can possibly happen to breasts.

My then-husband came home to find me huddled in the bed hysterically crying.

“What’s wrong?” he asks.

“My breasts!  They’re a ticking time bomb!  I want them off right now!”

“There there,” he said, not knowing what else to say.

The next day I ran to the Student Gynecology Service to get a pre-operative exam.  The kind Nurse Midwife examined me and assured me that at the moment my breasts were not explosive, and offered to re-check them whenever I started feeling breast-anxious.

I felt rather foolish, but relieved that at the age of 29, nothing was wrong with my breasts.

Why do I make these digressions when I’m depressed?

Maybe it’s because I don’t really want to engage with the depression.  I know it will pass, and something else will take its place, but when it’s on me, it’s literally on me, and all over me, and in me, and I can’t shake it off.  All that happens is I start crying and feeling like someone is trying to rip out my guts, and doing a pretty good job at it.

Then it passes, just as quickly as it came.  What follows might be a period of “normality,” meaning, neither hot nor cold, and this is heavenly.  But it never lasts.

Hypomania, or frank mania with psychosis, tends to raise its ugly head at night, about bedtime; which for me is at 9 pm because my meds take 12 hours to wear off.  Actually they take 13 hours, but that is an embarrassing amount of time to sleep, so I actually set an alarm for 9 am.

I can tell the (hypo)mania is on its way because my bedtime knockout cocktail doesn’t do a thing.  I’m awake playing Solitaire on my iPad, which usually bores me to sleep, except now I’m totally awake: uncomfortable in my skin, twitching, restless.  I don’t want to look up because sometimes my wallpaper turns into ugly faces.

I follow the protocol my shrink and I developed for these very occasions: more Seroquel.  Another 50 mg till it knocks me out.  And a double dose of my benzos for good measure.

Sometimes it takes a couple hundred more milligrams of Seroquel to do the job.  I have an incredibly low tolerance for Seroquel, so my maintenance dose is only 100 mg.  I know, I know, some of you take 600-800.  That would put me to sleep for several days.  I usually get to 300 before it’s knock-down time.

The good thing about hypo/mania is that it can be controlled, if recognized early enough.  Depression, though…that’s another beast.

Bipolar depression is different from “regular” depression for reasons I don’t know.  I was treated with regular antidepressants for years, and was pretty much suicidally depressed the whole time.  Vitamins “L” (Lithium and Lamictal) saved my life, quite literally.  Blessings upon the quirky head of my neuropsychiatrist, who was on call when I was hospitalized the first time, and got my bipolar figured out.

The only adjustment we can do for the depression part of the roller-coaster is to up the Lamictal by 50 mg, which puts me at 200.  More than that pops me over into mania.  It’s a delicate balance, as you can see.

So the only thing I can really do with this depression is to wait it out.  Sometimes it does get suicidally bad, and then I have to think about my dog and my son, and what my suicide would mean for them.

I put them in that order, because my dog is helpless without me (although yes, I could put her in Rescue, but that thought makes me cry harder) and my son second, because even though it would tear him to pieces, he is at least able to provide for himself, unlike my dog.  I know that makes no sense but that is how it happens to fall out in my brain.

I’m starting to feel tired now, which means this part of the wave is coming to a close–I don’t know exactly when–and what happens next I cannot guess.

OH NO!!!!

Hello, dear readers.  I think I have flipped.

I caught myself giving me a pedicure at 11:45 PM.  And really enjoying getting artistic about it.  It came out brilliantly, if I may be so obnoxious.

Hm.  Something does not feel quite right.

So I smoked half a joint, meditatively.

That’s when I got it.

I have been a slump since last Wednesday.  Well, not exactly a slump.  I would call it a triggered, dissociated, PTSD’d mess.  But it seems that under that pile of oozing slime, the Black Dog was lying relaxed, head up, tongue hanging out and dripping, waiting.

As I was enjoying my joint it hit me:  Silly silly, you have been depressed all week.  I mean, you have felt terrible, am I wrong?

But now have no fear, because Hypomania has made her entrance.  What fun!  Actually it is, if I don’t ruin anything important in the process.

Who knows how long I could stay up tonight, answering mail since last fall and calling Israel to check on the abysmal state of my bank account, since I haven’t been back in almost a year.  I could, in fact, put away the unspeakable piles of **stuf** that has collected on every flat surface.  I have to push objects away on the table in order to have space to eat.

No, not really that bad, most of the time.  Just during the down spells, where I have no interest whatsoever in that big envelope that promises instant gazillionair-hood.  I throw it all on the table.

Then if I’m lucky I’ll have a nice productive flip.  If I can stand still enough I can get all sorts of things done.  But **sigh** there is little danger of that.  Plenty to do in the big world!  Now, if I can just find a way to stay in this pleasant condition and not get into a mixed episode (shudder) or pop all the way into mania–not fun……..but now for the extra dose of Seroquel so I can get some sleep tonight….

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,880 other followers