I’ve been doing a lot of “doctoring” lately. Not the kind of doctoring that I prefer. That’s the kind where I’m the doctor. No, I stopped doing that ten years ago.
Now I seem to specialize in going to a seemingly infinite array of doctor-types. I won’t go into all of them. It’s depressing, and none of us needs more of that.
Of course I have my weekly therapeutic hour with my Ph.D. psychologist. She’s very good at keeping track of my brain’s peregrinations. I’m grateful for that, since I find them bewildering and tend to get lost without someone having a firm hold on the end of my hawser.
I’ve noted on other people’s blogs and on group lists that many people with mental illness have a DH, or a DW, or a BF or GF. I really do envy those people, and I admire the significant others for their devotion and willingness to hang in there and be an anchor for their troubled spouse or SI. I feel kind of cheated that I don’t have one, but I think the fact that I don’t is “just” a feature of my disease state.
My psychologist lately insisted that I apply for Social Security Disability. She feels that I am paying way too much in premiums and deductibles and coinsurance, even with the Federal Risk Pool insurance that costs exactly 1/3 of what the Blue Cross people offered me ($1400 per month), out of the goodness of their hearts. So I am proceeding through the laborious and distressing process of applying.
Distressing, because I have to go through the details of what my illness looks like and prevents me from doing. These are things I’d much rather not look at: ”But you look so well!” But my Global Assessment of Functioning number is 40, and that kind of puts the brakes on my delusions of normalcy. I demanded an itemized inventory of how she arrived at this appalling figure.
So we had to go through the litany of Disastrous and Failed relationships. I make a distinction between the “Disastrous” and the simply “Failed.” The Disastrous ones were the ones that put me in the hospital or on the run. The Failed ones were less poisonous. I guess you could say the Disastrous ones were like eating Death Angel mushrooms and needing a liver transplant, while the Failed ones were like wandering lost in the forest until running across a road to hitchhike on.
Noted among the dead and decaying relationships were not only marriages and significant others, but also work relationships. And those friendships: the ones I don’t have.
Now, I DO have some friendships in Israel. They are based on a form of Orthodox Judaism, and very structured. I wonder if this is what one needs in order to form friendships in general? I wouldn’t know, to tell you the truth. I can literally count on one hand the people that I have become close to in this life, close in a heartfelt sort of way.
Now there’s the part about leaving the house. I don’t, usually. I used to get out more, especially to play music, before my hands betrayed me and started requiring operations in order to maintain the general appearance and function of hands. But they hurt too much to use for very long at a time, so playing music doesn’t work so well anymore. So that knocks my Global Functioning score down a few notches.
Isolation is not good for mental illness. This we know. And there are things that I could do to ameliorate this. But I am not a social person, at heart. I become anxious and start fantasizing about doors that say “Exit” when surrounded by people I’d rather not be with; and that equals most people.
My answer to the loneliness issue is my dog. I have a Llasa Apso who is my Psychiatric Service Dog. Her name is Noga, which means “Glowing Object” in Hebrew. She is at this very moment tucked under my left arm, which does make typing somewhat awkward, but I’m happy to put up with that because she is here.
When I got her at 7 months, I wasn’t sure she would have the qualities required in a PSD (Psychiatric Service Dog), which are to detect negative emotional or behavioral states and to alert the owner to them. Now, at 18 months, she’s learned to detect when I am depressed, when I am heading into a manic state, when I am going into a dissociated state, and she gives me specific alert signs for all of these, thus meeting the Americans with Disabilities Act criteria for a PSD. This means that like a Guide Dog for the Blind or any other service dog, she has the legal right to be with me anywhere.
Plus, she’s funny and cute and makes me laugh. And she’s very patient with me. She is a treasure.