All posts filed under: Mental mumbles

Optimal Therapeutic Level

The first time I took my medication, Zyprexa knocked me out completely and I slept for days. The effect was powerful and immediate. I was very lucky that something worked for me in the first try. I don’t remember the first time I was off my medication. Or the second, the third. They were pretty fuzzy. However, I remember the last time I was off my medication with my psychiatrist’s permission. I was fine for three months until I went to look for answers from my puzzling past and schizophrenia came right back to me. Resuming medication took away my voice again. But it was until the following happened, that I realized that my magical medication is not all powerful and has limits. It was also a give and take with benefits and side effects. I took some time off from work to visit family and travel. I was on a very low dosage of Zyprexa, i.e. 2.5mg. I stopped experiencing the side effect of weight gain and started losing weight without any effort. I …

Becoming Whole: Why Write It?

Why was I so determine to write it for so many years? At the very beginning, I wrote it for myself. It was not unlike what I sometime saw in movies. Because the thoughts were so jumbled up, I made lists. I went through what I remembered repeatedly. Then I shared my notes with my friends because I wanted them to know. This was part of me. One day, after reading another memoir, I thought to myself, I could write a memoir! It might help others. I want to show you what it was like! If you were me, what would you do? Even if I helped or connected with just one person. I am very aware that not everyone who has schizophrenia ends up as lucky as I am. Because I am privileged to be able to tell my story, I should, even if it’s just one voice in this world of 7.5 billion people. With this target, wanting to share my story, during breaks between work, I wrote and edited, slowly and steadily. …

Becoming Whole: Prologue

On a sunny day, as I was getting ready to go to work, I heard my first voice clearly. Later on, I affectionately called him Joe. It was not like dreaming or having thoughts in my mind. To me, it was having a conversation with a real person whom I couldn’t see. Exactly that. No different. He sounded gentle and kind. He even made me smile. Joe entered my life when I was truly alone at age thirty. I had just broken up with my boyfriend. I’d gotten laid off from my first job and started a new job. While trying to live on my own again after the breakup, my apartment was broken into. Worried for my own safety, I moved into a house with housemates. I was emotionally isolated, but I didn’t know or analyze the situation I was in. For the first time in my life, I was determined to become a stronger person, living my life with only books, music, gym, and work, and did not reach out to any friends. …

A Night Cry

After I heard from Joe and learned my new language, on the outside I was doing okay, but deep inside signs of trouble started to show. I was most vulnerable when I tried to fall asleep. First, my conscious mind relaxed and let go. It stopped being in control after holding myself together so tightly during the day, at work, in the evening. My mind started to wander on its own through everything I had experienced. My fear and insecurity surfaced briefly, then I’d fall asleep. Once I fell asleep, I lost control. I woke up in the middle of the night crying once. As soon as I gained consciousness, I realized there were tears streaming down my face. Confused, I tried not to make any sounds as not to wake anyone else in the house. While my body cried, my mind was a blank. I didn’t feel sadness nor was I upset. My body must have been expressing fear buried underneath my toughness without my conscious mind. I wiped my eyes and went back …

One Honk Means Yes

At some point, Joe said to me, “One honk means right. Two honks mean left.” He was referring to the honking of cars. I didn’t quite remember what he said exactly and ended up with both what he said and what my mind made up, which was: one honk means yes, and two honks mean no. One day I was in my room. A car drove by the house and honked twice. The sound of honking jumped out at me loud and clear! I immediately thought the car was signaling, “No!” Is that an objection? What I was thinking must not have been right. I heard another honk following my reaction. In my head, I reacted to the one honk and understood it be to be, “Yes!” Whoa, I guess that confirms it. I didn’t look out the window to check who was driving by or what kind of cars they were. I just listened and made sense of the different honking sounds. Honking from that point on became a signal I understood automatically. If …

I’ll Call You Joe

After I heard my first voice, Joe, as I called “him” later, started speaking to me more and more. He spoke to me when I was alone in my room. He only showed up when I was alone. His voice continued to be soft, calm, and gentle. He never yelled at me or talked over me. With the exception of our first interaction, I never “talked’ to Joe using my mouth. I spoke words to him in my head silently. If there was anyone else around, they would see me as being quiet, as not having a conversation with anyone. But I was having conversations with Joe. My mind focused completely on his voice when he talked. My eyes took a slight backseat to my ears as I tried to continue to go about doing things while Joe commented on what I was doing. He always enunciated his words. I had no trouble understanding him. When I turned on the radio on my bookshelf, he said, “Good!” When I opened a book to start reading, …

Words Matter: My Medical Records

Soon after I was discharged from McLean in 2011, I submitted a request to get a copy of my medical records. A huge pile of paper was mailed to me. When I first read them, I was overwhelmed with the “professional,” “structural,” and “brief” tone they have. I was also sometimes surprised by what was documented. Recently, I talked to a research doctor and mentioned that I had read my own medical records. She did not expect that and said, “Reading one’s own medical records is not easy. They are usually technical. And rushed. Often with mistakes.” I agreed. Very often,  a lot has to be done in a very short time. However, these medical records shaded some important light on how I was perceived and expected to behave when I first came in contact with the caregivers at McLean, people who knew about mental illness but did not know me personally. That is invaluable. *~*~*~*~* Admission Note Identification Data and Chief complaint: This is a 37-year-old, Asian-American female with a history of schizophrenia, who …