August 12th, 2008…. It’s around 3pm…
I awake, finding myself with one wrist restrained to a hospital gurney. On the other side of me is an aide reading a book. I’m still wearing the top I had on the night before, however it’s all cut up and there is vomit and what must be charcoal as I’ve never attempted to overdose, all over it.
The aide tells me I’m in E.R. of North Memorial Medical Center and that I survived what must have been a “possible suicide attempt”. I respond back telling her it was “a very intentional suicide attempt where I tried to ingest about a months supply each of Vicodin, Miltown and Xanax and while I wanted to die then, I learned my lesson, wanna live now and can I please go home?” She tells me that now that I’m up, a doctor will be in shortly.
I get moved to a medical ward on the hospital, later that evening. I’ve only been in this hospital 4 times as a patient. 2 of them were to deliver my children and once prior due to pregnancy complications with my son. The 4th medical admission, was an inpatient admission almost exactly a year after my daughter’s birth, due to gastric bypass complications, and North Memorial didn’t have a bariatric surgeon associated with it. I had multiple hospital hospitalizations, medically from 2004 to 2008 due to gastric bypass complications. I had only one psychiatric hospitalization prior to my “only” suicide attempt which was 2 weeks before, when I went willingly but begrudgingly after giving up custody of my kids because I realize that I couldn’t take care of myself. Let alone them. That’s the short version. The long version will be unfolded in this blog.
The next evening I’m transferred to the psychiatric unit. I thought I was already in HELL and that’s why I wanted to kill myself. But apparently HELL is the psych unit at NMMC. There’s a bunch of people screaming for no reason, a guy talking about wanting to kill everyone and a very kind nurse asking me what I want for dinner. “I want to PLEASE get the FUCK out of here. I’m NOT crazy like these people!!!” is my response. She kindly smiles and hands me a hospital menu and tells me I have about 5 minutes before it’s too late to order dinner.
(note: this paragraph I majorily digress) My last (and ONLY) hospitalization 2 weeks before was at Fairview University- Riverside, the sister hospital to where I had my gastric bypass which was at Fairview University Medical Center (more about gastric bypass, complications and the “fun” of those hospitals and E.R visits post suicide attempt, once labled, to be in future blogs) However, with my last admission through the psych E.R. at Fairiview, I had no prior psych history, no legal history and no history of being violent (which I’m not). Fairview has multiple units designed to cater to different mental health issues. While I didn’t love the “5150”, put on me my 3rd day inpatient, there (it was on a Thursday, FUCK) so I ended up in that hospital for six days, my first time. My Russian psychiatrist with very poor english told me at the age of 38 1/2, that I was a Bipolar 2 (he was SO right about that but I didn’t realize that at first) prescription drug addict (that I still don’t believe, and neither did the chemical dependency psychologist,who assessed me) within the first 5 minutes of talking to me. ( I did abuse controlled substances from the time I gave up my kids the 2nd time in 2 weeks) til my suicide attempt but I was ACTUTELY suicidal, which I played down because I wanted to get out of the hospital and that didn’t occur until after this hospitalization.I didn’t really give up my kids until after my 1st psychiatric hospitalization.
Prior to that I didn’t abuse drugs. Even if I wanted to, I had my children. My kids lived in a “garbage can” basically because the last 2 years I had them, I was a very bad hoarder (more about that later) I was also on a cocktail of psychotropics that made me out of it, as well as gastric bypass complications such as reactive hypoglycemia,pulmonary hypotension and severe anemia as well as the duodenal ulcers. I couldn’t afford anymore cognitive impairment with a young child in the house that would come from anesthesizing my pain with drugs. So even though I wanted to self medicate, I couldn’t let myself, I was already at a major handicap as it was and so were my children by my being physically sick and mentally detoriating. I started detoriating where others could see it in 2007 (more about that later) but I realize in hindsight I was a lot sicker then I was willing to admit, especially mentally, way before then. My biggest problems probably started after my 1st medical hosptialization due to gastric bypasscomplications in 2004 as I referred to before…
Back to 8-13-2008…….
However the psych unit at NMMC ONLY has 2 units. An intermediate unit where everyone is initally watched and assessed and then a step down unit for those who are deemed not violent or a threat to anyone.
Later that night, I’m in my room and my roommate who while I didn’t know her well, I recognized her going to the same high school I did, she was a year behind me and we were both teased unmercifully. I also saw her throwing fits in the common area because she wouldn’t be given a new pencil to draw or that she couldn’t leave the intermediate unit. I had the bad luck of her being mad about something else. She isolated both of us in the room, started screaming and throwing herself in the room saying she was going to kill the both of us. Whether she was able to somehow lock us in the room, all I know is that she had been warned before she was going to go into the quiet room, of her tantrums, this time they warned her she’d be going to Anoka (the closest long term mental instituition).. By the time they were able to get 6 guards and get me out of there as there is no where anyone can hide in a psychiatric room in a hospital, I could barely breathe. They gave me what would be the last of any narcotics, which was 1 Ativan ( I got a whopping 1 Ativan and one Codeine while I was still in the medical ward) for the rest of the duration of my stay.
I wake up to find she’s been returned to our room and sleeping. I guess that’s what you get for being violent and death threats in a psych ward. That would shape how I end up behaving erratically in future medical admissions that were yet to come (Summer of 2010/Gastric Bypass Reversal blog will eventually be a-coming)….
Luckily, I say somewhat facetiously, I’m considered not a threat to a bunch of people and after lunch, I’m moved down to the step-down unit. I meet my new psychiatrist, Dr. P. who will continue to be short with me as well as play games with me the duration of my stay.
It’s been a week since my suicide attempt. I find myself in a routine at the hospital. Morning meeting with psychiatrist begging him to let me know when I can get out and when I can go outside to have a cigarette. He says the same answer “we’ll talk about this soon, Lisa and no, you can’t go outside to have smoke”. Mornings start with breakfast, a group meeting about feelings, following an art class, lunch, free time, quiet time from 3-4 and then at 4 another group.
Most of my morning group meetings my first week talk about being in shock that my life spiraled out of control and how horrifying it was to know I couldn’t be the best person to care for my kids. Because I had exhausted every resource to get help. Part of the problem is, I’m so medicated on new added psychtropics, I’m kind of numb. At least during that morning meeting. Before lunch I’m told I have visitor.
It’s a law enforcement officer from the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office. I’m being served with papers saying that the State of Minnesota is looking to have me committed to Anoka State hospital which is our state’s insane asylum. Seriously? WHAT THE FUCK!!!! No wonder why Dr. P. has been kinda mum on when I’m getting out.
About a day later, one of my social workers comes to see me. I was assigned a social worker, as in 2007 as I referring to is when I started showing signs I had a nervous breakdown, realizing that my goal of being a Bariatric specializing Certified Personal Trainer was never going to happen and that I was never going to be able to launch that business I had gone to school for in 2004 and got my certification in 2005. However by 2005, it was obvious, that physically I was too sick to work. A year later in December 2006 is when I applied for SSDI. It’s in 2007 though that it’s obvious something is really wrong with me. I give up on everything except my daily care of my kids and even that is at a bare minimum. I start failing Section 8 inspections due to having a filthy house in 2/2007, and it becomes problematic enough that while I am trying to keep what little is left together I’m failing miserably. My city’s housing authority’s inspector knew me well. I’d been on Section 8 for over 10 years.
Whatever it is, about 5 months later, in 2007, I find myself with Child Protection Case AND an Adult Protection Case and a worker from each department. They schedule what they call a “manditory clean up” which meant 2 guys and dumpster which is put in the parking lot of where I live and almost everything is thrown out. This is though where I talk about hoarding on social media, such as shows like “Hoarders”. People who are hoarders do NOT have the mental capacity to give informed consent to have something like that filmed. I understand now better why I hoarded and I did hoard on and off most of my adult life, but nothing like 2007 and until I gave up my kids.”
My house had become a manifestation of my head. So much thought clutter and dysfunctional thinking. I know this now. I did not know this then. I did try everything to get help though to protect my kids as I saw myself sliding down into an abyss. The problem with hoarding is that it’s a dirty secret, like literally. Kids don’t tell. Adults don’t want to talk about it because of the shame. I figure if I talk about it now, and more in future blogs, children of hoarders will understand it’s mental illness that’s driving the hoarding, not a lack of love for their loved ones, especially their children. It was obvious to both my workers, that there was an attempt on my part for my children to have a home, Not just a place to live. That we were extremely bonded, all 3 of us. Part of my mental illness, prior to having suicidal ideation is that I made my kids my world and vice versa because I didn’t want such a cruel world to hurt them.
When I became suicidal and my son who was old enough to see me disengrate, couldn’t understand how I could abandon that way but I’m digressing, big time. But this needed to be said before I go any further. I have a lot friends on social media who’ve lost loved ones due to suicide but only a few are willing to talk about it. The stigma needs to be removed. I’m obviously not capable of realizing this at this point in my life. I loved my kids more then anything. I of course, still do. While I still remember things is when I need to say them and my hopes for those who lose loved ones to suicide, realize that it’s irrational. It’s NEVER going to make sense. But it’s almost NEVER about NOT loving the ones you leave behind. We are too sick in our illnesses and our minds play tricks that we tell ourselves those we love are better off without us. I was not and am still not a violent person. I just didn’t want to be in pain anymore, and I knew I wasn’t the right person for my kids to be with and I couldn’t handle the pain I was causing very unintentionally. It was NEVER about me not loving them enough. Back to August of 2008…
So I meet with my social worker 2 days before my 1st commitment hearing which would end up being 4 days after I’m served with those papers. She can’t tell me much other then I’ll be appointed an attorney to represent me. (My family is too busy picking up the pieces and getting my kids ready for a new life with them, new schools. So I’m on my own). I was on my own though, during my medical hospitalizations. You’ll see a recurrent themes in my future blogs, that is, that I’m definitely not concise, I digress A LOT, and I still haven’t made my peace that this is my life and my old life is gone forever as well as the ability to raise my kids in the best environment…..
8-26-2008 So I have my 1st commitment hearing. I get picked up by someone from Hennepin County’s Sherriffs department.It’s my first time briefly outside in over 2 weeks. And basically I was outside from the hospital to the police car which I was escorted closely by the officer which would be my ride there. My court appointed attorney can’t shut me up in the 5 minutes we are allowed to meet before my hearing. I want to fight the commitment, so it’s not a permanent part of my record. She says that isn’t going to happen, that best I can hope for is a “stay of commitment”, which means while I’ll temporarily be a ward of the county, it will prevent permanent commitment to Anoka and a total loss of my freedoms, permanately. The rest of the hearing is a blur. Then I’m escorted to a locked small waiting room for hours before I get a ride back to the hospital.
8-29-2008 My official commitment hearing takes place. I relent and allow Kimary to push for the “stay of commitment”. I also realize when they grant it, life as much as it had changed, would change even more so, once this is granted. I’m not committed, but I’m made a legal ward of the State of Minnesota for the next 6 months
September 1st -15th, 2008
I start to disengage while still at the psych unit at NMMC. I don’t participate in groups and don’t want to get out of bed most of the time. I find out my social workers are looking for group homes to place me in. I look at 2 of them. The first one is ideally in Plymouth, where my kids are but it’s not a great fit. It’s a group home for mostly men who have chemical dependency issues. I would be required to attend AA/NA meetings almost everyday, and well, I’m not alcoholic and I’m not a drug addict (which is in hindsight a miracle given how addictive my personality is, more about that later) but because going to some kind of addict’s meeting is required, it’s deemed not a good fit for me. The group home that my social worker wants to get me in, and that is the 2nd one I see, I do get in, but I have to wait for a bed to open.
Days go by, and I’m warned if I don’t start participating in groups, they will try to have the “stay” overturned. So I start going to groups again. I finally find out which would be my last week in the hospital. I get out on 9-15-2008 and I’m allowed to go outside as well as spend the night at my parents house, before being required to be dropped off to 90 day inpatient intensive behavior treatment group home the next day.
My Dad on 9-15-2008, my day of discharge from NMMC, comes and picks me up and wants to kill me when he finds me in front of the hospital smoking a cigarette (I conned my social worker into stopping at a convenience store when looking at the 2nd group home but was too terrified to try and smoke while in the hospital). I could give a fuck less. I’m outside and have VERY temporary freedom until I’m dropped off again to the group home, the next day. My psychiatrist right before my relase gave me a “goodbye gift” of 30 day prescription of 1mg of Klonapin, to take twice a day…Well I couldn’t say it then, but um, FUCK YOU…
By then, I’d been in the hospital for 35 FUCKING DAYS..Couldn’t smoke, couldn’t go outside, couldn’t choose what to eat. Was not believed most of the time that the meds I was put on were making me sicker, physically. (that would be proved in my continual need for medical hosptializations as my ulcers got worse) while in the system.
9-16-2008 to 12-16-2008
I’m now in a group home that is supposed to provide 90 days of intensive behavior treatment. I learn a lot about different mental illnesses. But like in the hospital and this will be recurrent theme while I’m in the system that most people who end up in places like psych wards for such a long time, and group homes, have never had a fully functional life. I managed a household at one time, with 2 kids, kept a job for a long period of time, owned my own car, and lived a fairly functional life. There wasn’t a lot of chaos in my life or my children’s life, believe it or not, other then the horrible hoarding, near the end. We lived a fairly quiet, loving and peaceful life. So my life is unrelatable to both staff and other patients. There is a few of us, but we are in the minority. I end up having to find the few good things of what’s to be of my new life as a ward of the state. I have more freedom then I did in the hospital. I can smoke both outside and inside the group home (there was a designated smoking room and yes, it was disgusting). We get to go though also on nightly activities. We also have cleaning assignments. We only have 2 group meetings a day, weekdays and only one a day on weekends.
I’m also in this period of time, served again, with papers for an unlawful detainer. I paid my rent for August of 2008, of course, even though I knew I was acutely suicidal. However my “stay of commitment” and lack of income, also lack of being ability and lack of viable option, to move back to my old apartment,not to mention until I’m put on General Assistance, I have NO money. So I get an UD for unpaid rent. I’m lucky they didn’t sue me for damages. Somewhere within the 1st 2 weeks at the group home, I’m allowed to go back to my old apartment. And I want to DIE again. I can’t believe my kids EVER had to live there in all that clutter and filth. My parents and my son did try to clean up my apartment. And because I was actually a good tenant, the 6 years I lived there with them, they didn’t sue me for damages, only for unpaid rent. However I was kicked off of Section 8 for both unpaid rent and the hoarding. Which would ban me from being able to live in any type of HUD housing for the most part, for the next 5 years. That was in 11/2008. My Section 8 ban ends 11/2013.
As the time grows closer that I’m going to “graduate” from my temporary initial group home, my social worker starts looking for a group home for a permanent placement, She finds one that considered decent in the beginning of 2008 and I move there directly from the other on 12-16-2008.
12-16-2008 to 12-31-2009
I learn more then I ever want to about Mental Illness at this group home. I’ve already been in the system and really not ever alone for 4 months now, because even when you are outside, there is other people. One of my roommates as there is 3 people to a bedroom in this place has both Multiple Personality Disorder and Paranoid Schizophrenia, my other roommate just has BPD2 and Paranoid Schizophrenia. J, the 1st person I was referring to, was very social depending on what personality you were dealing with. “M”, was very quiet, however she practically NEVER left our bedroom. “M” if she would talk, which was rare, could somewhat relate as she had adult children. However that’s all I knew about her. There were 4 houses in this group home in South Minneapolis and about 70 residents. Some people realized their illnesses, some didn’t. Most of them had been in the system most of their adult lives, if not since they were teens. Most of the staff was shocked by my particular situation which they had never heard of.
Most people don’t get nearly committed at the age of 38 1/2 or give up custody of their 5 1/2 year old daughter who’s never seen her mother function normally and their 15 1/2 year old son who saw his mother disengrate physically and mentally…….
Because I participate a lot in the weight loss surgery community, still.
People believe I had a lot to do with my complications, such as my vitamin deficiencies. This is probably the 1st time I’m going into such detail, as fact is once I was on my “stay of commitment”, I was court ordered to take all medications that a psychiatrist or ANY medical professional deemed necessary. Which also meant vitamins. It also meant if I missed a med pass of Tylenol, my group home could control how much freedom I had. I had several medical hospitalizations, and honestly while I purposely wasn’t trying to make myself sick, I had freedoms, I wasn’t used to. The food at NMMC and both group homes was absolutely awful. I had $100 to live on a month. The food, that is if I could eat, at Fairview University Medical Center, was awesome. I also once I got out of the hospital started seeing my old psychiatrist who put me back on either Xanax or Valium, my choice, he would not ever allow me to be put back on Miltown (now known as Equanil) like ever again.
I was not allowed to be on pain medications other then inpatient admissions and after falls that landed me in the E.R, as even though I still had gained almost all my weight back (almost 100 lbs) I still had reactive hypoglycemia, pulmonary hypotension plus the psychotropics at almost 225 lbs. I also had a need to infused with iron and “banana bags” as well as Protonix for the ulcers. Even the staff at the group home was perplexed by how medically fragile I was given how fat I was again.
I learned a couple of valuable things. Don’t date anyone you meet in treatment or a group home. I actually ended up dating a guy who was in the behavior treatment center I was. He was a nice guy, but he was also a MH “frequent flyer”. I also learned if you miss a tylenol pass one too many times, that was enough for the nurses to restrict my inability to be away from the group home from 4-2009 til 12-31-2009 for more then 4 hours, as prior to that, I was allowed to have my meds packaged and could spend an occasional overnight somewhere else. The most valuable lesson I’ve learned, and it sticks with me today, is that safety is definitely not a guarantee wherever you live. However the most dangerous place til then was not my neighborhood but the group home. I learned how NOT to be come a victim but maintaining a sense of dignity because I wasn’t going to become a violent perpetrator to others, even though I did live in constant fear which wasn’t irrational given my circumstances.
In August of 2009, I finally had my hearing for my appeal for SSDI. I won both on medical and mental health disabilities. In fact, the judge told me at the hearing he was appalled it took so long and told me at the hearing that I was going to be awarded SSDI, that he was ruling in my favor. I had a young vulnerable child in the house at the date he established me disabled.I had multiple medical diagnosies and a few psych diagnosies. With all the workers in the last 2 years I had my kids, was exposed to, NO ONE thought to press for an expedited hearing. My next blog I will address probably why I’ve made my peace with this. But why I advocate, as this could have helped both my kids and I enormously of not having to go through some of the stuff we did. This is why I’m going public with something that’s so humiliating not only to me, but my family. But I’ve helped other people when privately sharing this. My hopes is that it will other people…
Time goes by so slowly. Especially when you life does a “180”, like mine did. Even though I was so medicated, the fighter in me, couldn’t make my peace that this is what my life had become. In November 2009, I started getting SSDI and was put on Medicare. My psychiatrist realized the enormity of the damage that being on the quantity of psychotropics was doing to me and started weaning me off of the Seroquel,Depakote and the Zyprexa I was on. I was prior to November of 2009, 2000 mgs of Depakote,800 mgs of Seroquel, 60 mgs of Zyprexa, 600 mgs of Zoloft A DAY. I was also on acetaminophen for pain and ONLY acetaminophen, as Lyrica (I’d been diagonsed with Fibro by then) and Neurontin didn’t work. I was also on 200 mgs of Topamax (for Migraines since puberty). That’s an ENORMOUS amount of medications to be on that effect people’s ability to think clearly. On top of a diagnosis of BPD2. However once I got Medicare, he wouldn’t be able to see me anymore. I also had him take me off the benzodiazepine I was on. The little Valium or Xanax I was on, didn’t work effectively, it wasn’t worth being prescribed it.
December of 2009
Right after my birthday which was 12-2, and the 2nd birthday I spent by myself at a group home, an incident happened. A newer resident who’d been hogging the one and only television with cable in the group home got in my face and started screaming at me as he said I could watch a show and he had hogged the tv for like the last 10 hours. I still backed down, but was upset as one of the staff members was nearby,could hear him, and did nothing about it. I did end up filing a grievance with the State Omnibudsman of MN, as while I was lucky he didn’t hit me, he had hit other people, and other acts of violence by residents were not taken as seriously as they should have been by the staff and owners of the group home. The group home also had a horrible problem with mice. It was freezing cold in the winter and boiling hot in the summer. It now had also made me public enemy #1 to most of the staff and the owners of the group home.
I go to call on my cell phone to check my balance on my checking account to see if I have enough money for a pack of cigarettes. To my delight, I have a balance of over $9700 in my checking account. I finally got my SSDI backpay! YAY!!! I call my family, give some money to my sisters, my parents and son won’t take any, buy myself a netbook and go to the library to go on Craiglist, as I want to find a place to move to, A.S.A.P. Other then my family, I don’t tell anyone that I got my backpay. I go to the library and find a condo for rent. IN PLYMOUTH. YAY!!! I call the guy, we make arrangements to meet on 12-31-2009 as I ironically have a dental appointment in Plymouth and I can conveniently take a taxi to meet him.
I go to my dentist appointment and take taxi to the condo. I know of the complex I had lived there 17 years earlier with my son in the building next to it. It’s a studio with an indoor and outdoor swimming pool on the grounds and I’m 2 miles away from my kids. I write him a check,happily for $750, as he banks at the same bank I do, he gives me the keys, I take a cab back to the dentist office. I take a medi-cab back to the group home. It’s late afternoon but most staff is there.
I go to see the manager of the group home to address my concerns about safety,mice, the horrible food and my inability to not leave the premises normally for more then 4 hours unless I have a medical appointment and throw in ” you should probably know I’m moving”. She asks when. I tell her “tomorrow”. She tells me to tell the nurses. I tell them that. They are like “you can’t”. I’m like “I SO can”. “My stay of commitment expired almost 8 months ago, and as of tomorrow I can do whatever the FUCK I WANT TO!!!!” “HAPPY FUCKING NEW YEAR” and I walk out of the room . Because the next day is a holiday, I end up renting a driver with an SUV for $200 for 4 hours (A fucking bargain, if you ask me) to move me on 1-1-2010. I tell everyone who comes in to my sight that I’m getting the fuck out of there.
1-1-2010. I move into my cute little condo. By myself. After 16 1/2 FUCKING MONTHS IN THE SYSTEM… I’M FREE… AND THIS IS NEVER EVER GOING TO HAPPEN TO ME AGAIN….NEVER!!!!!
This will be the longest blog I ever write. It will hopefully explain as well as futher blogs, why I am a medical and mental health activist who both exists in size acceptance and a supportive long term weight loss surgery peer. It will explain further why I think there is a need to talk about taboo subjects such as hoarding and suicide. And I’m advocate for anti-bullying, both children and adults. I don’t believe it was a coincidence, that there was 3 of us alone, on that psych unit from my high school who were horribly bullied our entire childhoods at NMMC with serious mental health issues as adults. Oh and note, I use the profanity. A LOT……The “eff” word” is my best verbal friend….. Not all my blogs will be serious though. I’ve lost a lot, I also have gained an enormous amount of insight. But because of my medical and mh disabilities, I’m not very concise, I don’t think or express myself in a logical sequence of order. You can pretty much guarantee there’s no such thing as grammar and sentence syntax, with me. It’s not because I’m lazy. It’s because I have had too many health issues that have caused major cognitive damage and aphasia. But I still have managed to retain my sense of humor so my blogs with be a mixed bag of sorts.As I pretty much have an opinion on almost everything, and I’m not afraid to share it with anyone….
To Be Continued…..