Posted by finelinebob on August 14, 2006, at 23:18:54
In reply to How funny! I was wondering about him today... (nm) » Deb R, posted by Racer on May 26, 2006, at 20:39:17
Wow. May 26th, 2006. That was a very, very dark time for me.
Readers' Digest version of what got me there:
-- being two blocks from the WTC right after the second plane hit.
-- jobless, benefitless, unemploymentless, then homeless and taken in by my brother in VA.
-- for numerous reasons, had to leave there and wound up the "prototypical loser" --> 40 yrs old, unemployed and living in my parents' basement.
That actually had its benefits. I had harbored so much anger against them for so long, but now they're both elderly and in poor health and they needed constant attention, which I gave them for two years. Taking care of them made it so much easier to forgive them and myself, and said without words what needed to be said.
I also went off my meds for 4 months, realized how stupid that was, found a good psychiatrist who suggested that instead of major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder we treat me more like bipolar spectrum ... besides the PTSD from being at "Ground Zero" and the aftermath of that. Didn't take it seriously enough at first.
Had a nasty little interlude. Part of my intestines decided to make a balloon dog or something out of itself. Was a couple hours away from dying, I hear. Now I have a 1.5ft scar from my sternum down and several feet less of my insides. But it got me started on applying to Social Security for disability benefits.
Everyone, docs included, told me fight the inevitable denials until they finally agree and give me benefits. Well, a deposit for 1 year in arrears was in my bank account before I got my initial response letter saying "Yeah, you're disabled. Welcome to Social Security."
The thing about PTSD, tho, is that going from numb to freakily emotional is like flipping a light switch. I can remember clearly the moment it happened. I realised I was surrounded by people who could NEVER possibly understand what I had been through and felt such a profound sense of alienation that one second I could be screaming at the top of my lungs at whatever drew my attention to the next second crying uncontrollably due to some unnameable sorrow. Usually happpend when I was driving, which really made life interesting at that moment. Made checkout lines at grocery stores an interesting exercise in self-control as well.
Took me months to admit I needed more treatment for this, but it also led me to finally agree with my PDoc (about the biploar spectrum) and I got my first taste of a mood stabilizer. Doc suggested an atypical antipsychotic for me, so we went with zyprexa (with my nortrip and klonopin). Never had a cocktail work as well as that. Unfortunately, my triglycerides shot up to 900, so I had to dump the zyprexa to save my liver (which I guess would have killed me before my arteries had a chance to clog). Moved to Lamictal ... not as good, but much better than nortrip and klonopin alone.
Also had in him a PDoc who agreed I was ADD, and he started me on Ritalin. And thus began the climb from that very dark place. I felt my life was over. Didn't want to kill myself. I just felt nothing would ever change and what I was living was what I would get for every dark day of every dark year I had left to me.
Thank god for my German Shepherd, Leyna. She was born a month before 9/11 and I got her a month after. And she seems to have picked up my agoraphobia and some neuroses of her own, but she saved my life just by being there.
Fast forward. 12/26/06. I'm back in NYC, new job at Beliefnet.com (a non-denominational site focused on spiritual exploration and healthy living), my old therapist (YEA!!!) and a new PDoc who just knows way too much. He'd ask something like "describe how your anxiety feels" and get me to narrow things down and finally say "that response is located in this part of the brain, so let's get you on this med". Stuck with my basic cocktail, agreed completely about the bipolar spectrum and ADD (and PTSD). Would have preferred me on zyprexa. Tried ... damn, can't remember the name, another atypical antipsychotic, but it messed with my lipids just as bad.
Moved me onto Focalin instead of Ritalin. Difference for me is night and day. Nortrip + Konopin + Lamictal + Focalin is almost making me worried about going manic -- but my baseline mood is so low for me mania looks like you got a free ticket on your megamillions lotto ticket.
So here I am. Back in the only city that ever felt like home, doing a job I love, not quite paid enough to live where I want to live but my company is growing and they see my value, so I know promotions are coming when they're ready. I've taken up guitar lessons again, THIS time on a classical guitar (my fingers actually fit!) with an awesome teacher. Eight months here, and I still haven't finished unpacking, but my outside state reflects my inside state, so I got work to do on both.
Went downtown to this one computer store to buy a game, just for the heck of it ... and without realizing what I was doing, stepped out onto the corner I was at on 9/11. Can you say "flashback"? Sure you can! I could smell all the smells, I heard all the sirens, thankfully had no visual flashbacks, and thankfully they went away once I ran to the store and got inside.
A month later, went back with my therapist by my side and retraced my steps as much as I could that day ... some subway construction prevented it. On the subway trip down, started listening to my iPod (hey! I'm no poser ... I had a first gen before people knew what they were ;^) and thought about finding something relaxing, but changed my mind. I decided to fight instead of trying to be the flexible reed Lao Tsu would have advised, so I turned on some loud, raucous stuff. I went down there with the attitude that I would no longer be victimized by what happened that day ... and I did really, really well.
I got less than one month to see how well that holds up. You might wonder why I'd head back to where it happened -- it's the alienation thing. 8.5 million New Yorkers went through that together and as painful as being here next month might be, I have that bond to draw on.
For those who don't remember: http://wtc.thefineline.org/ . I hope to have an update soon about life 5 years after.
Just saw the preview of this post. Golly!! It has been a long time, hasn't it?