This post is going to be in the mode of stream of consciousness. I have so much swirling around in my head, the music is too loud, and I am bone weary at this particular moment. So really all I can do is let my thoughts come out in one long stream. Sound good?
Sixteen years ago I was a second year teacher on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. I was teaching third grade and had an assistant teacher. We were conducting reading groups, which we tracked since altogether there were six third grade teachers and assistant teachers. In the middle of the period the head of school walked in and motioned me to come to her at the door. She whispered in my ear that two planes had struck the Twin Towers. There wasn't much information at that time other than that. I was shocked, dumbstruck, and couldn't really figure out what to do next. Our instructions were clear, keep the kids calm, uninformed, and on their normal schedule. All the teachers wanted to do was to watch the TV that was in my room. When the students had a period out of our classroom that is exactly what we did.
The news never got any better. In fact it kept getting more and more horrific, like out of a movie that couldn't possibly be based in reality. I was able to reach my mother, who was in Connecticut, on my cell phone, but getting through to my sister, down in DC, was impossible. So one of us would call my mother and she would relay information back and forth to the two of us.
One of my students had parents who were both journalists. They were both covering the World Trade Center. Many students got picked up early by parents, or care givers. We were to keep as much normalcy in the classroom as possible and think up reasons why so and so was leaving early. It was a surreal day with sirens racing all day down, down, down to the hell that was the Financial District.
I walked uptown to my friend on 93rd Street and spent the evening with her since no trains were running and cabs were impossible to find. We sat, glued, in front of the television. What else was there to do? We prayed, for sure, but it is hard to pray when you can't even wrap your head around what is happening. It is hard to pray when you are unsure as to what the future will hold for your city, your nation.
Eventually I began to walk uptown to my apartment on 187th Street. I believe at one point I was able to get a cab. I was very thankful for that kindness. Once I got home I turned on my computer and went to Craigslist where covering every board were wanted ads, looking for missing people. The majority of them were titled: Cantor Fitzgerald. At first I thought, wow, so many people looking for this one cantor. Only later did I realize that the whole floor of Cantor Fitzgerald had been obliterated. All employees were gone. Loved ones so tightly holding on to hope that their Cantor Fitzgerald family member was spared, was out there, was trying to get in touch. It was heartbreaking to realize, as the hours went by, that most of those wanted ads would remain unanswered.
Many people have been making the comment that every year on September 11th the weather is clear and crisp, just like that day 16 years ago. Today it is cloudy, it is not a clear blue sky, it is not a bright, warming, optimistic sun. The reality has set in. Our nation is not the same nation that is was on September 10, 2001. We can never go back. True, we can never forget, nor should we, but we can never go back. The United States is not infallible. Our truth is now different, everything changed because of the events at the Twin Towers, at the Pentagon, in Shanksville, PA. And we should never forget.
I can not imagine what strength of character it must have taken for the volunteers, both career and civilian, to make their way downtown to the Financial District or to the Pentagon or to the meadow in Pennsylvania. They didn't know what they were walking into. They didn't know what they would find. They for sure were not thinking about how it would affect them years down the road. But they did it. They went. In fact so many went that they were turned back.
I wish I could say that I did something heroic that day sixteen years ago, but alas I can not. I stayed in my home. I watched the news. I waited, with the nation, for some good news to come out of this nightmare. But I can say that every year since 2001 I have remembered. I have taken a minute or two out of my day and meditated on what 9/11/01 means to me and the nation and in the broader concept, the world.
I try to stay non-political on this blog, for I feel that was not my point of starting www.1000miles1step.com. But I do have to point out all of the events going on around us, just in the United States, recently. We have wild fires in the west, hurricanes in the east, DACA all over, committees being disbanded, protest rallies getting out of control and people mortally wounded. The way to improve the climate, both natural and political, is not by shutting things down. It is by opening things up. Start a respectful conversation, where both parties listen politely and considerately. Perhaps they agree to disagree, but they are talking, each side presenting his or her beliefs. Talking is necessary. Shutting people down, intimidating people is not the way to improve anything.
If September 11th can teach us anything it is that when the chips are down more often than not people are good and kind and want to help. Unfortunately they are the same ones who do so quietly, not drawing attention to themselves. It is the loud and boisterous ones who shut down the flow of information. Those that crave the attention are self-promoting. Today I will find someone quietly making the world a better place for others and walk up to them and thank them. It is the very least that I can do.
I wish you love, and peace, and the ability to speak your mind in a constructive environment.
So let me give you my day in bullet points:
I am sitting with my planner supplies in front of me, planner open to next week, sticky notes dotting the week letting me know when I have what (and I pre-plan using sticky notes just in case something changes, but the weekend before the next week I put the stickers in and plans are set!) I sit and survey my supplies and a sense of calm, or peacefulness, of tranquility settles over my whole body. My legs are a little sore from my run this morning. I am sipping a cold, delicious iced tea, and a slight breeze is blowing across my arms and legs. I must have spent over an hour and a half working in my planner. Many people, if they're not planner people don't understand how anyone can spend that much time planning out the next week, but man, if you get it, you GET IT.
overspending, which is how my mania manifests itself, and 10% of it would be happy with friends.
That's not a great breakdown if you look at life like that. But my therapist's point was that I've done an amazing job of doing the everyday things, like getting out of bed. Like finishing college in four years. Like holding down a job, even with the number of days I've missed. Like graduating graduate school. Like living on my own. Like remaining alive even when the desire to not be alive is so much stronger than I can even describe.
I spoke with my mother after my run, so I knew she'd be awake. I made the point that while she and my father have ALWAYS been super supportive I didn't think they really knew how hard a struggle it is for me to be appropriate to be in public, to be social, to be with other people. I assured my mother that I knew they loved me and would never give up on me, but I wasn't convinced that they knew how hard it really is for me 80% of the time. To this my mother responded that she and my father did, indeed, understand how hard things were for me. I have to take her at her word, that they really do know how hard the thought of facing another day, in public, interacting with others in an appropriate manner is for me? Do they really know how good shopping at expensive stores and buying EXACTLY what I want, regardless of price, feels to me? Do they know that for the brief 10% of the time, when I'm with my friends how fleeting that feeling is to me?
My therapist also made the point that even during that 80% of the time that sucks I am still compliant with my medications. I still make it to every therapist appointment. I still manage to wake up and shower (most of the time) and make it into work (most of the time). Her point was that even with my struggle, which is REAL, and which is LARGE, I still manage to be Rachel the "good girl."
So when I experience a day like today, perfect weather, perfect planning environment, perfect beverage, perfect lighting, I need to embrace it. Enjoy it. Experience it. My previous plan was to go downtown to a museum and sketch, which is something I haven't done in ages. Would it have felt good? For sure. Would I have been pleased with what I created? Probably. But you know what? I am so much more content right here at Peet's. I didn't even have to hop on the Metro to get here. And I'll be home in about 3 minutes flat when I'm done here.
Sometimes the best things are the things you find right in your own backyard (metaphorically of course).
Have a wonderful day and make sure to embrace all that you are given during those 24 hours.
am speechless. I simply can not believe that in 2017, after all the wars, and disagreements almost leading to war, the human race has not learned from its past.
In 1964 Simon & Garfunkel released He Was My Brother. It was smack dab in the middle of the Civil Rights Movement and they had something to say about it. And they said it in a harmonious way. The words still, much to my dismay, still ring true. It may not only be brothers. It may not be in Mississippi. It may not be outside of a church, although it still does have to do with religion. But it is still happening, and we still need Freedom Riders. They may not be in buses, they may not be young men, but they are needed now more than ever. Please don't get me wrong, however, when I say now more than ever I DO NOT mean to imply they were not necessary during the Civil Rights Movement. Far from it. They were needed then more than ever as well. I simply mean that we, not only as Americans, but as members of the human race, need to act. It may not mean traveling and confronting the Neo-Nazis, White Supremacists, and all the other fanatics. It may mean writing a blog post. It may mean writing an op-ed piece. It may mean calling your congressman/woman. It may mean simply having a conversation with your peers or your children about acceptance and love and respect and freedom. It may mean many things to many people.
It saddens my heart that lyrics written in 1964 are still spot on today, in 2017. Where is respect? Where is love? Where is common decency? I will be 100% transparent here. When I became religious, and by that I mean right wing, Orthodox Judaism, I was not so accepting of the "others." It said in the Bible that homosexuality was not okay and so in my mind it was not okay and those who were homosexual were not okay. I was full of judgement, always thinking that I was right and others were wrong, because I had religion on my side. Well, as my fanatical side started evening out, and my religious pendulum swung back towards center, I realized that I had left out love and respect in my religious days. That does NOT mean that all right wing religious Jews are not full of love and respect. It simply means that I was not. But as I evened out, and came back to center, I realized that love of my fellow man/woman was SO MUCH more important that always being religiously correct. I realized that loving others not only made me a more decent person, but it honestly made me a more happy person. Love is full of light and happiness and freedom. Judgement is dark, and heavy, and confining. Respect brings gentleness. Prejudice brings harshness.
I guess the point of this blog, and maybe I should have made it at the start and made it a one sentence post, is that you don't need to love everyone else around you, you simply need to respect their choices, and in return they will respect your's. It is possible to live side by side with someone who believes in a different G-d than you do. It is possible to live side by side with someone who has a different skin color than you do. It is possible to live side by side with almost anyone AS LONG as you have respect for them. The bottom line is that it makes absolutely NO DIFFERENCE to me who someone loves, be it the same sex or the opposite sex. What matters is their hearts. Do they love? Do they honor? Do they respect? It makes NO DIFFERENCE to me what G-d someone worships. What DOES matter is whether or not they respect my choice to worship a different G-d.
Yesterday afternoon I saw a rainbow. I haven't seen a rainbow in real life in ages. It filled me with such a sense of promise, of possibility, of success. I hope this rainbow will bring you the same positivity. I hope this blog will allow you to think about respect and love and honor (although something tells me that those of you reading this do already think of those things on the daily).
Let us not listen to the voices of the two-hearted, the destroyers of mind, the haters and self-made leaders, whose lusts for power and wealth will lead us into confusion and darkness.
Seek visions always of world beauty, not violence nor battlefields.
It is our duty to pray always for harmony between man and earth, so that the earth will bloom once more. Let us show our emblem of love and goodwill for all life and land.
Pray for the House of Glass, for within it are minds clear and pure as ice and mountain streams. Pray for the great leaders of nations in the House of Mica who in their own quiet ways help the earth in balance.
We pray the Great Spirit that one day our Mother Earth will be purified into a healthy peaceful one. Let us sing for strength of wisdom with all nations for the good of all people. Our hope is not yet lost, purification must be to restore the health of our Mother Earth for lasting peace and happiness.
Techqua Ikachi - for Land and Life!"
I'm not sure where to start. I honestly have so much swirling through my head right now I would need a dozen right hands to get it all out on paper (meaning I'm right handed and would need 12 pieces of paper to write down all the things). I guess I should start at the very beginning, it is a very good place to start don't ya know.
On Monday my mother and I made our way to Sibley Memorial Hospital for my next installment of maintenance ECT. Well the nurse looked at my arms and found no veins. "Don't worry," he said, "the anesthesiologist is really good and will find one for sure." Um, not at all the way it played out!!!! For 30 minutes, at the very least, the anesthesiologist poked and prodded and stuck me a minimum of six times, digging around, and could not find a viable vein for the IV. Finally the doctor said that we should think about a permanent port. NO WAY I screamed!!!!! The doctor finally asked me if I wanted to stop for the day. I said, "Yes sir!" And out I walked, back to my mother, sitting in the waiting area, shocked to see me so soon. I told her what happened, inbetween sobs and shakes. We sat there for a while while I got myself a little more together. We went down to the coffee shop where I got an iced coffee and she got a hot coffee. It was there that I made my decision:
NO MORE ECT!!!!
NO MORE INVASIVE TREATMENTS!!!!
IT'S TIME TO BRING IN THE NATURAL, HOMEOPATHIC TREATMENTS!!!!
I made the decision that while I will still work closely with the psychiatrist, whom I love and trust implicitly, and my therapist, with whom I have an equally trusting relationship, and I will stay on my meds, I am going to do more for myself than just be a passive patient. I think for a long time I expected people to do things TO me or FOR me. My psychiatrist would PRESCRIBE medications for me to take that would heal me. My therapist would talk TO me and I would answer her, passively. I would go to acupuncture, but not do any work in between the treatments. I expected that since I was so compliant and did everything my doctors told me to do I should be well. Um, let's look at that with our reality glasses on, shall we?
I let the doctors tell me what to do. Did I always do it? Honestly? No I did not. They told me to cut out processed foods and to drink enough water and to get regular, consistent exercise. Did I do all those things? Absolutely not! I still grabbed the mac n' cheese when I had a bad day. I still reached for a Coca-Cola rather than water. And lastly, I would curl up on my couch, hour after hour, watching Netflix or iTunes, even when the weather was so gorgeous you couldn't believe it was real. I met with a nutritionist, who was great, and loving, and kind. Did I follow what she said for me to do? Nope, not even close to it. I mean, don't get me wrong, I bought all the cookbooks she recommended and I might have even cooked out of them once or twice. But did I incorporate her recommendations into my permanent rotations of cooking? N.O.P.E.
This past experience with ECT, showing me how being passive is sometimes just as hard and just as unpleasant as taking charge and being in control of your own life and health, opened my eyes to something that I think I had my blinders on about. I need to take 100% control of how my health plays out! Will it be easy? Absolutely not, I have many, many, many years of old habits to replace with new ones. Will it always go my way? No, I've been learning that life is about riding the rollercoaster; you take the ups with the downs and learn from them both. But regardless, you take the helm and set the course.
So what am I going to do with this new realization? Quite a few things actually.
First of all, I am really making sure to drink at least 2 liters of water while I'm at work and then one more when I get home (and by water I mean seltzer with a splash of 100% cranberry juice). I find myself in the bathroom quite frequently doing this but I've been told your body gets used to the additional water intake.
Secondly, I am focusing on my nutrition. I make sure to eat a healthy breakfast, protein based, every morning. I have a mid-morning snack usually of fruit, or fruit and plain Greek yogurt. I eat lunch which is left over from dinner the previous night. Always a protein and some veggies. In the afternoon I have another snack, usually nuts and dried cranberries. Then I come home and for dinner I have something involving a protein and some veggies. I'm learning that the recipes I make do not need to be fit for the Queen of England, she is not coming over any time soon. It is okay to make simple, wholesome meals that do not involve a ton of random ingredients and spices. And of course there are carbs thrown in for good measure. I'm just not making them the center of all my meals, good bye Wacky Mac!
And lastly I am focusing on my exercise. I realize I have been a lazy bum since my NY Road Runner's days. It feels good, I am rediscovering, to work up a sweat. To have sweat run down your arms, down your nose, into your eyes (well that doesn't feel good, but you get my drift). I've been going for three runs a week, usually for about 50 minutes. I am currently doing a run one minute, walk four minutes pattern for eight repeats. That'll cover about 2.35 miles. At least that is what I did yesterday. I'm aiming to cover more ground in the same amount of time before adding more running to the ratio. Not sure what Runner's World would say to that. Maybe I'll ask them. In fact I think I will! Thanks for the idea blogosphere!!!!!
So far I am half way my first week. So far, so good. I'm going to run to the Giant to pick up some tuna fish and tomatoes to make a salad for dinner tonight and lunch tomorrow. Knowing me I'll probably make more tuna fish salad than for only two meals, so I'll eat it more, that's okay, I'm not so picky.
Here's a question for all of you readers out there, whether you've been with me from the beginning or are just reading for the first time: What are you doing to take active control of your life? Are you playing the passive recipient? Is it working out for you? That is not a judgment question, I really want to know. Because for me I think playing the passive recipient seemed to be working for me until it wasn't. You know, perhaps my life could have been a whole lot easier if I had taken charge sooner......I'll never know. But what I do know is that it is not too late to become the master of my ship, my own designated driver, the decider (you know George Bush, you're not the only one who is the decider). Leave a comment and let me know what IS or IS NOT working for you right now, in whatever season of life you find yourself.
But in the meantime, I leave you with this powerful image, posted by my friend Sherry on Facebook earlier this week:
Monday I began the wonderful world of maintenance ECT at Sibley Memorial Hospital. While it was the same treatment I received at Suburban Hospital it was worlds different at Sibley. To begin with there were appointment times. I mean, it wasn't first come, first served. It was lovely not feeling it necessary to leave the house at 5:10 am to get there at 5:20 am to make sure you were one of the first taken back to the stretchers. I practically waltzed into the Psych department at 7:40 am.
So that brings us to the second difference. The ECT area is in the In-Patient Psych Ward. I did not like that. I mean, don't get me wrong, I've done my time in-patient. But man I DO NOT want to have flashbacks to those times. Keep me outside of the locked doors thank you very much. I did not like that part of the set up. I think Sibley is working on finding a new space for ECT to keep it out of the locked ward.
The third major difference is that they do not make you put on a hospital gown. You stay in your comfy clothes, sitting in a chair, until they call you back for your turn. Even then you don't change out of your clothes. It's lovely actually. I did wish they could have started the IV when I was with my mother, but they took a precursory look at my arms and declared that there were no viable veins and that the anesthesiologist would insert the IV.
So when it is your turn they call your name and you walk back to the treatment room. You hop up on the stretcher and they took my glasses, which I hated because it is kind of claustrophobic when you can't see. I don't know, do you find that too? Anyway, then the anesthesiologist inserted the IV into the tiny spot right above my left pinky knuckle. That hurt like a mother! The psychiatrist was very kind and explained everything he was doing while he was doing it. Then they turned on the IV.....burned like a million fires!!!!! For whatever reason, even after the meds were in me I got jerky and moved and the IV came out. So they had to start a new IV, in the other hand, and give me a second dose of the anesthesia. So all told I had twice the amount I should have had. But to be honest I don't remember much after the burning of the first IV going in.
Usually you are in PACU for about 45 minutes and then you are ready to leave and go home. Well I was there for 3 1/2 hours. It took me a long time to wake up (from the double dose of anesthesia) and then my 02 level was so low they wouldn't let me leave. They gave me a nebulizer treatment to try and bring it up. They put the little oxygen spouts in my nose to help bring up my O2. They coached me in breathing deeply (which I think was necessary since I kept falling asleep). Finally, finally, finally they deemed me O2 saturated enough to go home.
I arrived home at 1:30 pm. Seven hours after I left home that morning. For a procedure that should have taken about 2 hours from start to finish.
I slept literally the whole rest of the day. I took a nap in bed. Woke up to eat some lunch and then fell asleep on the couch while talking with my mother. She left to go back home and I fell back to sleep after she left on the other couch. I couldn't wait to go to sleep for the night. I slept through the night H-A-R-D. When I woke up I had a fat lip and every inch of me was sore. Now I don't remember this happening before but I've been assured that it is normal for me. I guess part of the beauty of ECT is that you really don't remember any of it. Which my sister tells me is all for the best.
Everyone was very nice at Sibley. It was just a completely new experience for me as compared to Suburban. Sometimes change is good and sometimes it is bad and sometimes it is neither. I think this was a neither instance. It is what it is.
Next date of ECT is Monday, August 21st. Here's hoping that August goes a little smoother.
I have to be honest with you, I wasn't planning on writing a blog post tonight. After a frustrating day at work (don't get me started.....I'd probably get myself fired) I came home and painted my nails. Painting my nails always makes me feel good, especially when I do a good job. So I was feeling good. I watched 10 Things I Hate About You while letting my nails dry and sipped on some delicious vanilla chai iced tea. I was chill. I was calm. I was excited about meeting with a doctor for a second opinion on the psychological treatment plan I've been on and if there were any better options out there tomorrow afternoon with my parents. I was good. And then I got a notification that Chester Bennington died by suicide. I couldn't let that go without putting my thoughts onto virtual paper.
Now I'll keep it 100% honest and tell you that I don't know that much about Linkin Park. I use their Bleed It Out as one of my inspirational running songs. But honestly I discovered that song by accident and don't really listen to anything else by them. Well of course that is changing tonight. I've made my Linkin Park playlist on iTunes and will listen to it as I type this blog post and as I drive to work and the doctor's appointment tomorrow. Who knows how long I'll listen to it. It isn't my typical type of music I listen to but I feel a connection now. Not sure why, I mean I don't know what it feels like to lose someone close to me to suicide, but I do know what it feels like to feel like the only solution to the pain and despair is to end it all.
When you are low, like really, really low, like there is no reason to get out of bed, or there is no reason to get into bed in the first place, or there is no reason to even call a friend cause really who gives a shit about me anyway, all you know is that you are a drag to be around and for sure your friends don't want to be dragged down by you. But oh how wrong that sick mind is! It is exactly at those moments, at those instants of just wanting to throw in the towel that you MUST, you MUST reach out. You MUST talk to someone, if only for 5 minutes to get you outside of your head. You MUST be told that there is a world outside of your depression. You MUST be shown that you are loved and needed and most importantly, you MUST be told that YOU.DO.MATTER!!!!!
I wish that someone had realized how large Chester Bennington's demons had become to him. I wish there had been that split second that either Chester had asked for the strength to fight back his demons, or better yet, I wish there had been that split second that someone close to him had seen how real the struggle was and to take him by the hand and help him back from the brink. When your demons are that real and that large and that all-encompassing it is SOOOOOO hard to ask for the help you so desperately need. To be honest, if my mother didn't keep such close tabs on me and variations from my normal I'm completely sure I would not still be here. I surely would have self-destructed by now.
I guess the point of this blog is a) to get the huge amount of emotions I'm having with the news of Chester Benninton's death by suicide out and organized somehow and b) to let anyone reading who is feeling any of the feelings either I've mentioned or some of the articles mention that there IS help. There ARE trained professionals out there to help you see through the fog of mental illness and start on your road to recovery, even if you are 100% sure there is no way to recover. There ARE friends who are out there who are more than willing to take you literally by the hand and help you take the first, and second, and third, and possibly fourth, step on the road to getting help. Please do not give up the fight. Please fight tooth and nail, fight with everything you have to give, even if you feel as though you have nothing to give, fight, fight, fight to live, if only long enough to breathe another breath. Then fight to take the next breath and the next. Fight to get the care you deserve. Fight to find the right team of professionals to help you.
Fight for your life. YOU ARE WORTH EVERY SINGLE SECOND OF IT!!!!!!
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741.
Is Wednesday Morning, 3 AM anyone else's favorite Simon and Garfunkel song? I just love it. Check it out here and tell me you don't LOVE it!!! And it isn't over played. In fact it is hardly played at all!!!!! Anyway, I picked it as my title because Monday morning, 3 AM I was still awake. Yup. Bad choices by Rachel. But man, I was having fun on the computer and I was watching some good movies. I mean, Spy Game and Twilight? Who can say no to those two? But really, if you haven't seen Spy Game with Robert Redford you really should. It is phenomenal.
Anyway, it is halfway through the week so I am fulfilling the second part of my three part promise about blog posts this week. And what I thought of doing was sort of a blow by blow about how my life has been post ECT. Seems like a reasonable post, no?
So, for the first week or so after finishing the 12th ECT treatment I am pretty zombie-like. This time my parents took me home to their house. I think really my mother just wanted to make sure I ate good food (like NOT Wacky Mac) and got to bed at reasonable times (see reference to Wednesday Morning, 3 AM). So I stayed there about a week and then finally said to them something along the lines of, "I am so anxious to get back to my apartment. I have things to do!" I think both my mother and my father took that as a good sign. So back to my apartment I went.
The first thing I did was clean. Weird for me I realize, but that is what I was so anxious to start doing. A little purging, a little straightening, a little organizing. I hit the kitchen, I hit the living room, and I hit my bedroom. And by straightening up the living room the dining room got hit as well. The only room I really need to tackle still is the bathroom. But who enjoys straightening/cleaning the bathroom I ask you? Next on my list was to meal plan so I could go shopping and prepare my meals for the upcoming week. (If you aren't aware, and you can be by clicking on over to the Healthy Stuff page, I meal plan for a week at a time. I go through my cookbooks and blogs I follow and find two main dishes to make and eat them throughout the week--I don't mind eating the same things day after day. This way I only need to go grocery shopping once a week.) I had fun doing it. I love meal planning. I love grocery shopping. I love cooking. I don't love doing dishes, but part of my new routine is the minute I'm done using something I either wash it by hand or I stick it in the dishwasher. I run my dishwasher every night and empty it every morning while I'm prepping my breakfast and lunch every day. This way the dishes never overwhelm me.
I picked up all the clothes from the bedroom floor and aim, every night, to hang up what I wore that day, or put it in the laundry basket. I aim to make my bed every single morning. These are two things that when I'm sick I do not do. Like I never do it. It's ridiculous how little bedroom floor you can see when I'm sick. I guess the same can be said for the living room floor as well. So far, so good. I've been on a two week streak, if not longer. I've lost count.
Now, two things I need to get better at are exercising, because I KNOW FOR SURE that that will help me stay emotionally healthy, and drinking my water. I've read that drinking room temperature water is better for you than drinking cold water, but I just can't do it. Blech! So I try every morning to start with a 12 oz. glass of water or seltzer. I have two bottles at work, both with filters in the straw (I'm a nut about only drinking filtered water), and I drink from one while the other one is chilling in the fridge, and then I switch when I finish the first one. So far so good. About the exercising.....well......that's another story. I have a training plan, from Runner's World, that I know is a good one. I mean, come on, it's from Runner's World after all. I'm just having trouble getting out there and doing it. You know what I mean? I'm sure many of you do. Tomorrow is an easy day, I think it's only walking for either 20 minutes for 40 minutes. I can totally do that. I don't even have to go anywhere, I can walk around my apartment complex and get some hills in there too. Tomorrow I'm going to do it!!!! I mean it!!!! I'll check in tomorrow with a quick post letting you know how it went.
Before I sign off (really cause I have to go to the bathroom) I wanted to tell you a funny story that happened this morning. If you know me you know I have terrible vision. Without my glasses or my contacts I can't see much past my nose. So I can not read my clock by my bed. So the alarm went off at 6:00 am this morning and I promptly rolled over and went back to sleep. The next time I woke up I tried to see the clock and thought that it said 7:52 am. Oh no!!! I only had about 25 minutes to get ready and pack my lunch and make my breakfast. So I hustled out of bed, ran to the bathroom, did my stuff and went back into my room to get dressed, wearing my glasses. I look at the clock and it read 7:10 am. So come to find out, when I first looked at the clock it read 6:52, not 7:52!!!!! I was a whole hour earlier than I thought. I had so much spare time this morning. I made a great green smoothie (gotta start the day off with a serving of veggies). Packed a delicious lunch. Made some yummy Strawberry Coolata iced tea in the neatest mug that a student gave me. And still had time to sit on the couch and watch Carpool Karaoke. Do you watch that, with James Cordon? OMG! It cracks me up EVERY.SINGLE.TIME. Here is the one I watched this morning. I was crying at the end I was laughing so hard!!! Check it out.
So, happy Hump Day to all you reading this (I hope there are many of you, friends and people I don't know yet but hope to know soon). We are half way through the week. And even though we had yesterday off, that just made today feel like a Monday. And who likes a week with two Mondays?!?! Tomorrow is Thursday, one day closer to Friday. And on Friday we can sign the Friday Song. It is semi-related to the Vacation Song. And if you are a member of my family you know what that one is. The Friday Song is new. I just made it up last week. But I think it's a keeper, if I can only remember the tune.
Have a wonderful rest of your Wednesday. I wish you a speedy conclusion to the week. And I'll catch ya on the flip side.
Thank you for reading and supporting me.
If you follow this blog you'll have noticed that I have been absent for quite some time. I mean, I guess not that long, but a lot has happened since I last wrote. When I last wrote I was just at the beginning of my second round with ECT. It was only supposed to be every other week for a month and then once a month, but turned into three times a week for a month. It was rough. I tried to keep working during the off days, but quite quickly it became apparent that I was not mentally up to the challenge of my job. Every one at work was so kind and understanding, even if I didn't take it as that at the time. But I've been assured that they were.
So I just wanted to take this blog post to sort of explain, both to you and to me, what exactly ECT is and what it does and how it is performed. So let us begin with some information I found from the Mayo Clinic. So, first of all, ECT stands for Electro-Convulsive Therapy and is used primarily in treatment resistant patients. Now I am not completely treatment resistant, I guess I am partially resistant. Medications work but only to a certain extent. And at various times that extent is not enough to have any sort of enjoyable life. Unacceptable!!!! What I've read says that the actual procedure takes anywhere from five to 10 minutes. WOW!!!! The whole shebang takes like four hours (give or take depending on how long it takes for the nurses to get you set up and how many people are in line before you). I actually had no idea how quick the ECT procedure took. ECT can be done either outpatient or inpatient, although in my Mental Health Advance Directive I've very clearly stated that I will only undergo ECT as an outpatient patient, with a family member there to be with me (check out this link for more information on Mental Health Advance Directives). So after you're called in, and taken back, you put on a hospital gown and wait to have an IV inserted. This was always my most dreaded part....me and needles....NO THANK YOU!!!!!
When it is your turn they wheel you into the treatment room. In that room, at least in my experience, there is the doctor who administers the ECT, the anesthesiologist, and a nurse. So there is a little chit chat as the doctor puts electrodes on your head. The Mayo Clinic says that ECT can be unilateral, in which electric currents focus on only one side of the brain, or bilateral, in which both sides of the brain receive focused electric currents. For my first round of ECT, back in 2016, I had bilateral. And man did it do a number on my whole self. I had no memory and was like a zombie. This year, after a week or two of bilateral, we switched to unilateral because the bilateral was making me into a zombie again. I guess this year the lasting negative effects of the ECT didn't last as long as with the bilateral last year. So, now comes the fun part (not really, I'm saying that with my tongue in my cheek), they start the anesthesia. It burns like a mother f*cker going in. They would give me something to help numb it but it didn't really do anything I felt. Very quickly I was asleep and not aware of anything else until I woke up.
According to the Mayo Clinic not only is an anesthetic given, but also a muscle relaxant, to help make the seizure less intense. I wasn't aware of this. The Mayo Clinic also says that a blood pressure cuff is put around your ankle to stop the muscle relaxant from reaching your foot so that the doctor can monitor the seizure through the foot's movement. But they also have all sorts of monitors to see the progress of the seizure too, so I don't even know if they put a blood pressure cuff around my ankle. And after a few minutes the seizure is over and you are done.
Next they wheel you into recovery to let the anesthesia wear off. Sometimes I had an easy wake up and sometimes they were more difficult with confusion and nausea. Thank goodness most of them were okay and I really didn't even know if I had had the procedure yet or not. When I was awake they would take out the IV and call my mother back in to see me. She would then go get the car, I would get dressed, and an orderly would wheel me down to the front door to meet my mother in the car.
This I'm just going to copy, word for word, from www.mayoclinic.org:
No one knows for certain how ECT helps treat severe depression and other mental illnesses. What is known, though, is that many chemical aspects of brain function are changed during and after seizure activity. These chemical changes may build upon one another, somehow reducing symptoms of severe depression or other mental illnesses. That's why ECT is most effective in people who receive a full course of multiple treatments.
And that was my life for the month of May in 2017. I didn't really enjoy it. It was very taxing on not only me, physically and emotionally, but on my parents as well. My mother had to come stay with me and my parents are very much in love so it was hard for them to be apart so much. I know they love me and would do almost anything to help me be and stay healthy, but they still need to be with each other. I appreciate all they do and have done for me and my health.
I'm trying to figure out how to put my thoughts into words. I mean, how do you explain that you need to put yourself first in order to take care of anyone else as well? I think our society is one in which if you put your own needs ahead of the needs of others you are looked at as being selfish. I don't agree with that. I think that it is necessary to put what YOU need to be healthy and fully functioning ahead of the needs of others. If you don't put your needs first how will you have anything left over to take care of those needs? Be clear in what YOU need to be a fully functioning member of society AND THEN you will be able to help others take care of themselves as well.
Currently I am undergoing Electro-Convulsive Therapy three times a week. I need to make sure that I do everything I possibly can to take care of myself as I undergo this rather harsh treatment. If I don't put my own needs first I will not have anything left over to give to others in my life. I need to make sure I'm eating healthy, well-balanced meals. I need to make sure I am getting enough sleep every night. I need to make sure I am consuming enough water to keep my body fully hydrated. These are the basic steps I can take to make sure I am putting my health first and foremost.
As my memory slip slides away I need to take steps to remind myself of the events that I need to remember. Whether it is jotting it down in my planner (click here for $10.00 off your first Erin Condren order) or leaving Post It Notes around my apartment, I need to make sure that I have memory joggers in crucial locations since my brain is not working like i t used to work. Eventually my brain will revert to normal functioning, but only after there is a good size chunk of time in between the ECT and the present time.
I need to not be afraid to ask for clarification when something is not clear to me. I can not be afraid to admit when I don't remember something, regardless of what it is. ECT effects the memory and that is okay. Life is not always pretty and life is not always smooth. Own the messiness of life and things will flow much more naturally. I am trying to own my messiness right now.
So about a year ago I underwent ECT for a good month and a half. I thought that was the end and I was cured. I mean, not cured, but had gotten my symptoms under control with medication and therapy. Oh no!!!! I was wrong! In November I mentioned to my doctors that I thought the ECT was no longer working. They both came back with, "no, no, that is not what is happening. It is too soon." Oh how wrong they were. Finally my doctor said I should have maintenance ECT (meaning every other week for a month and then once monthly). Well the doctor that administers the ECT made the most valid point that you can't start maintenance when you are so low. Uh, duh!!!! Of course you can't. I'm so annoyed at myself that I didn't push harder back in the winter. So here I am, undergoing ECT three times a week. I'm not sure what this will mean for my job. My job is one that really needs to be in the office five days a week. I have specific tasks each day. There are only three of us in the office, and one of those three is only there three days a week. Nobody has the capacity to take on my duties. I totally get that. I'm not sure if I'll be able to keep the job or if I will need to give it up. It isn't the love of my life job, but I do REALLY love the people I work with and the hours are good and the environment is positive. So those are all three really important aspects of a job.
Friday was my first treatment and man was it a doozy. I woke up from the anesthesia super duper nauseous and HOT. I mean hot in like I was sweating and flushed. They had ice all over my face and neck to try and cool me off. I don't know what happened. But it wasn't fun!!!! Today was much easier. I mean I woke up with a massive headache, but I think that is to be expected. I wasn't hot and I was not really nauseous either. Both pluses in my mind. I came home and both Friday and today I took a four hour nap each day.
I guess this is all a learning game. I will have to learn how to work with my constraints. I will have to learn how to work with work, meaning either keeping my job or needing to give up the job. I hope I can stay, but totally understand if I can't. I will need to learn how to make sure I am taking care of myself, each and every day. Meaning, getting enough sleep, eating properly, getting enough exercise, drinking enough water. All little things that add up to something huge in the big picture of overall health.
What do you do to keep your health, both physical and mental, in tip top shape? What are some tricks of your trade that you rely on to keep you on the straight and narrow? Or if you prefer a more winding path, what do you do to keep your forward momentum? Please comment below, I'd love to hear from you.