Recovery Update: The Joys and Sorrows of 2015

It’s that time of year again when we evaluate everything we have accomplished over the past year.

THIS YEAR so much has changed! 

I spent the first 4 months (of a total of 9 month visit) in the new Parkwood mental health care hospital. During that time I received electro convulsive therapy (ECT-read past blogs for more info on that part of my journey). The ECT helped SO much but it was really only part of the treatment I needed to fully recover. Although my Dr. at that time thought that this was all I needed and I just needed to work out the rest with a psychologist (who I happened to not get along with…for good reasons). So, even though I was still struggling with severe OCD (that seemed no further help could be offered) and major dissociative episodes, my psychiatrist decided to send me home in May. 

I was home for a total of 3 weeks where I struggled through each and every day and night. After I had been home for a few weeks my primary contact at the hospital suddenly changed (I’m not ok with sudden changes!) and then my psychiatrist announced she was moving to a different hospital and I would be getting a new Dr. 

I felt shaken. Everything that was supposed to be my constant was shifting and the crazy thoughts in my head began to take over. Not just my mind but physically through dissociations.

So then, crisis after crisis occurred and my parents became understandably drained and had no choice but to let the crisis team to admit me to the hospital AGAIN. I spent several consecutive days unable to speak or communicate past nodding/shaking my head for yes or no. When I’m in this state I’m very irrational and tend to do things to hurt or injure myself badly or just run away, usually to somewhere unsafe (like the train tracks). I actually have very little memory of these times. I am very grateful for that but the things I do remember haunt me. Fortunately there are no full memories just little snapshots every once and a while and the memories of trying to get my bearings-calling my beyond-worried-mother when I “snap out” of the dissociation.

Once I was admitted I found out I would be put on a different unit than I had been on in my past stays over two years. I was super nervous about this move but it turned out to be the best thing that could have happened! The nurses on this unit seemed to have a different perspective and had less judgement. Along with the new unit came a new psychiatrist! Again a huge, terrifying, change! But it worked out wonderfully!! I was supposed to see my new outpatient Dr (who I hadn’t met yet) just a few days after I was admitted. So this lovely lady came to see me inpatient. She just walked into my room and started talking to me like we knew each other! Apparently she had come the day before and met me but I was in a dissociation and didn’t say a word to her! She probably had no idea how she was going to help a patient who didn’t talk! Eventually my new psychiatrist,  Dr. N, recognized my confusion and we did our introductions. I would soon find out what an incredible answer to prayer this Dr. was.

It didn’t take me long to grow attached to Dr. N and apparently the feeling was mutual because she wasn’t planning on taking on inpatients but she kept me (as inpatient then later as an outpatient!). As we got to know each other better she recognized how big a problem the OCD was and started me on Memantine: an experimental med for OCD and eventually Valproic Acid to help with the dissociations. This combination worked! Can you believe it!? After too many years of suffering my mind FINALLY had some relief!! And it took a while, but combined with individual “Dialectical Behavioral Therapy” the dissociations came to an end too.

Isn’t that a happy ending!?!? 
Suffering, suffering, suffering…then boom God sends some healing! 

When you think you can’t go one more step…God steps in and walks a thousand until you have the strength to go on your own again. When you think you can’t handle one more bad day…God sends someone to make you smile or laugh. If you think you’re never going to get better, you think you’re going to die from this terrible illness, you think your situation is completely hopeless…I promise you with everything in me, that God will step in and show you HEALING-but it will be on His time not yours. In the meantime He will be holding your right hand.

This time last year (it feels like so much longer than that!) I was in a really, really, terrible place. I did not have any desire to live or fight off my illness. When I reflected on the year that passed I felt like such a failure. I hadn’t done anything to get me closer to my goals. In fact, my goals had turned to dust and all I was doing was passing time. This part of my life was so terrible that I don’t even remember much of it, like I blocked it out of my memory. 

Now that I’m passed that, I’m doing everything I can not to go back, but I do need to look at this time so I can see and ponder all the wonderful ways God protected me: from cars passing when I dissociated on a street, from trains while I walked the tracks, from my countless suicide attempts, and from small things like infections from my deep cuts from the glass I picked up. It really is a miracle that I’m still here today. Now, near the end of this year, I thank God for the blessing of life. Even though it’s still tough. I’m not yet fully recovered. Far from it, actually. But I’m way farther than I was. Somedays I still have to fight SO incredibly hard. It will be like that for a while still but I believe the worst is past. This is clichéd but: because of these struggles I am stronger, my faith is unshakable, I look for blessings more, and live life fully.

I can honestly say, for the first time in quite a while, that I am REALLY looking forward to all that the new year has to bring! I’m excited to have Zoë by my side full time. I’m excited to keep working on my OCD (well…sort of…it’s the hardest thing to ever do but it has results that improve the quality of my life!). I’m excited to keep working on other aspects of my mental health and excited to (hopefully) get some answers for my physical health. I’m excited to be going to church again like normal people (as opposed to leaving the sanctuary or sitting in the balcony). I’m excited for the possibility of online courses in the fall (if things keep improving as they have). I’m also excited for small things, like, the possibility of living an outpatient life, the possibility of making new friends, and hanging out with old friends (doing fun things instead of visiting in a hospital setting).

Most of all I’m happy to just be living the life of a happy person.

So, thank you God, for an INCREDIBLE end to the year! I owe it all to you! I just want to know the person who created me and blessed me with this new outlook, better. I am fully yours!

To all those who haven’t gotten this far in recovery yet…you will get there. It feels impossible and lonely. This journey is hard, I know. The way I feel now is so worth the fight! So I can’t push you enough to keep fighting with all (even if it’s only reaching out your hand!) the strength you can muster. You’re going to make it because I am praying for each and every person who reads this blog.

Thank you to each and every one of you who have been following this journey! Thank you to everyone who has encouraged me, kept in contact, hugged me, taken time to make (temporary) changes-until I can overcome more of my OCD, to those who have gone out of their way to help me with my anxiety, or to those who just made me feel normal. I love and appreciate you all! 

I feel like a brand new person.

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