Good News and Bad News

First of all I gotta say that I am really proud of Rhonda Elkins for her bravery in allowing me to post the letter that she wrote shortly after her 23 year old daughter’s suicide, on my Wednesday feature “Breaking the Silence of Stigma.”  That letter touched a lot of hearts and did a lot of good.  And I’m proud of my readers for rallying around Rhonda with their words of support, and some frank and open discussion of their own struggles with suicidal thoughts.

And I’m really proud of ME for writing a great review for David Henry Sterry’s new book, Mort Morte.  He’s honored me by using my review as the copy on his web page.  Kinda makes me think about going back to copy writing.  I wrote copy for an online store for a while, then ditched it because they started carrying shit  stuff I didn’t like, so there went my low-paying writing job. I can’t write copy for stuff I can’t get excited about.  Like “Wow, look at these tacky rhinestone-studded chartreuse earrings in the shape of a bunch of bananas.  Carmen Miranda would have put them on her head!  Only $1,200 on sale now!”  Ugh.  Now if someone would pay me to write fun stuff I’d be on it like white on rice.

That’s the good news.

And here’s the windup, now the pitch….oh come on, just get it out.  Er, I mean over with.  Well, I really don’t want to.  I want to stay sunk in denial forever.

I had to go see my shrink yesterday to get a form filled out so that I can take Noga, my service dog, on the plane when I go to Israel twelve days from now.  Eek.  Time is running short, and it’s running like hell.  Anyway.  So I go and see Tony my shrink, and he’s a good egg.  The man really loves crazy people.  He’s crazy himself, freely admits it, and also admits that the reason he’s a good shrink is that he’s crazy.

Anyway.  So he likes to talk for a long time, both because he likes the company of other crazy people, and because that’s how he sizes you up and figures out what brand of crazy you are and if you need your meds tweaked or anything else like that.  So we’re talking and he’s really paying attention to me and not just goofing around like he normally does.  So at some point I lose not just a single word, as has been happening a lot lately, but an entire phrase that I needed to have, in order to express what I was trying to, well, express.  I wanted to describe something but lacked a whole phrase and was trying to find alternative ways of saying it.

“How often is this happening to you?”

“Oh, several times a day.  Even when I’m writing, sometimes I can’t think of a word and just have to put a parenthesis and go back and fill it in later when I remember the word.”

He raises an eyebrow.  Not a good sign.  Tony is almost always upbeat and goofing around, because if he can’t make you laugh then he knows you’re really depressed.  Or if he annoys the shit out of you then he knows you’re irritable and wants to know what’s up with that.  But if he raises an eyebrow….that ain’t good.

“You know the meds that they’re using to preserve cognitive function in Alzheimer’s?  They’re using them now to treat cognitive dysfunction in Bipolar.”

My heart fell out and hit me on the toe.  I winced.

Last year I felt like my brain was misbehaving, so I had a battery of neuropsychiatric testing that showed a big hole in one part of my central information processing.  I freaked on out and called Tony, who talked me down from my freakout and told me it was a known phenomenon in Bipolar, the older you get.  Great.

So yesterday he gently suggested that since the cognitive issues (he did not say “dementia,” thank God) seem to be progressing, he recommended I try one of these cognitive function preserving drugs.  Far fucking out.

And he also suggested that I go back on the stimulants that I hate and had previously refused to take because they make me feel like shit.  He looked up what I had before and it was Adderal.  He said that sometimes people who hate Adderal like plain ol’ Dexadrine.  He said it might give my brain some clarity and help the cognition to cognate.  So I said all right, and now I have two fucking more pill bottles in my pharmacy.  Why me, Lord, why me?  Oh stop with that whiny shit, Laura, you know very well there are much worse things in the world than being crazy.  Don’t even go there.

It’s Official: I’m Crazy!

Yes, I know I’m writing on the Sabbath again.  It was a choice between that, or taking lethal doses of drugs that I have especially tucked away for the purpose, should the time come when I really can’t bear it anymore.

I went before a federal disability judge today.  He looked exactly the way I saw him in my dream last night: 40-ish, dark haired, looking beneficent in his dark robes.  If he were not so cherubic he might recall the Grim Reaper.

The hearing lasted all of fifteen minutes, quite the anticlimax for a two year span spent gathering a stack of paper charts and reports several feet thick, going to court-appointed mental health examiners, showing up at lawyer appointments, ad nauseam, and for all that not really knowing what the benefit to myself could possibly be.  I have a very nice (thank God) private disability policy that I paid for out of my pocket while I was working, and I had to fight tooth and nail to force the *&^% insurance company to pay up when I got sick, all the while so deep in depression that I could not get out of my chair, let alone fight a battle with an insurance company that would stop at nothing (including surveillance) to keep from parting with their money.  That was in the early years of the 2000’s, and I have been kept not nearly as comfortable as I was when I was working, yet certainly not starving.

And now comes my therapist and starts pushing me to apply for Social Security Disability, mostly because half of my present income goes to paying deductibles and co-payments, and she feels that the Medicare that comes with the SSD would provide substantial financial relief.

I suppose that is true.  I won’t receive more income really, because the private insurance might possibly decrease in proportion to the government payments, which won’t be much anyway because of the twelve years that I was a student becoming a doctor and did not earn enough to pay taxes.  Ironic, that.

But all of that financial stuff is not what has me writing on the Sabbath.

It is the judgement, the final judgement, and the finality of the judgement, that I am mentally disabled.  That I cannot go back to work in the profession I love, that I was so deeply in love with that I sacrificed almost everything.

I am Officially Crazy.

I feel like I should immediately take shopping bags and fill them with dirty clothes and go out on the street with my hair looking wild.

Maybe I should have a scarlet letter “C” tattooed on my forehead.

I’m glad I have an anti-suicide pact with my oldest friend (I wonder if he remembers).  It helps me to stay away from the lethal cocktail.

I wonder, will the news reach the State Medical Board, and will they take away my license?  Even though I haven’t practiced medicine since April 4, 2000, I have carefully maintained my license, religiously racking up the Continuing Medical Education points every year, even though I can no longer afford to go to the snazzy conferences that I used to go to, to learn about all kinds of tips and tricks and topics and shmooze with the colleagues, when they would speak to me: after word got around that I am mentally ill, I found myself shunned by my pediatrics chums so I took up going to surgery meetings instead, where nobody knew me and I could learn in peace.  Ah well, those were the days; they are no more.  I will never practice medicine again.  It has been too long, and the disease and the drugs have taken their toll on my cognition.

I think I’ll just keep on getting drunk tonight.  I have a pretty good start already.  I don’t like being drunk, generally speaking; but I need something to numb the pain, and I don’t dare open a pill bottle.

Crazy Person, good night.