Thursday, July 31, 2008

Episode 9- The First Few Nights

That first night, as you can imagine, was nerve wracking. Cody and I tried our best to act as if everything was as it had been a few short weeks before. We did our typical night time routine with Ethan, and let me say how refreshing it was to be back home with my sweet boy who seemed to always smell like soggy Cherios. That night I popped my pills, waited a few minutes to start feeling the affect, then Cody and I climbed into bed as if nothing was different.

It was strange lying in bed looking at that different spot on the celing. It was calming in a way, but it felt like the first night in a new home and I was very apprehensive. I lied there trying my best to relax and drift off to sleep, but my mind wouldn't let me and before long that all too familiar feeling of panic crept up on me. I could hear Cody snoring softly which told me he was already asleep. I was terrified of disturbing him, so I got up and went out into the living room.

I sat in the couch and starred into the dark. Still trying to keep my nerves at bay, I decided to take an extra 50 mg of Trazadone. What could it hurt? It was a higher dose than what was on the drug vial, but I knew I had been given much higher doses while in the hospital. The rest of that night was spent in and out of restless sleep.

The next night was even worse. Jane decided to stay the night after spending all day with me and seeing that I really needed help. That night started out the exact same but around midnight I had a massive panic attack. I recall Jane and Cody kneeling by me as I lied on the living room floor crying and hyperventilating. Jane was doing her best to calm me down by having me do some simple breathing exercises. I kept screaming at her to shut up and leave me alone. I was an absolute mess and I was out of control.

I took another Ativan and a while later they turned the lights out and put a movie on. I remember it was "Now And Then", that movie with Demi Moore and Rosie O'Donald. I put my head in Cody's lap and he gently stroked my hair as I drifted off to sleep. I'm pretty sure that Cody was up almost all night making sure that I stayed calm and comfortable there on the couch. Oh if we could have seen the road that lie before us.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Episode 8- The Return Home

Going home was filled with bittersweet feelings for me. All I wanted was to get back to normal, to regain a sense of order and predictablity like my life once revolved around. Cody and I left the hospital and went straight for the pharmacy to get my prescriptions filled.

I had been to that Kmart pharmacy many times for various reasons, but as the Pharmacist did his typical consult about these particular drugs, I was filled with shame and remorse. What had I done? How could I continue to posion my baby in such a way? He probably thought I was a disgusting and horrible person. Why couldn't I deal with these mysterious issues on my own with out drugs? Why would I put my own health above that of my baby? As a mother, I had grown acustomed to putting myself second before my son. I think it is just an insitinct as a mother. Yet here I was, knwingly hurting my unborn baby and I wasn't about to stop. I was a terrible person for it.

As we walked into our apartment, a creepy feeling of deja-vu engilfed me. It was so familar to me. We had spent two years in this home. Our family had started here and numerous beautiful memories were made. But also, the memories of recent weeks came flooding back to me. The horror, the confusion, the nightmares, the hallucinations...and the Monster.

Jane was still in town and Cody's Dad, Allan, had also come in to help. They decided to re-arrange our apartment while we were gone. When we walked in they were in the middle of making the final touches. Our bedroom was completely different. The bed was moved, the dresser, desk, everything. They figured it was bad for me to come back into the place and have it look the same. The last thing I needed was to lie back down in that bed and stare at the same spot on the ceiling. They thought I needed a new spot. Turns out they were right because when I saw that things looked differently, I breathed a small sigh of relief. In a way I felt like I was getting a fresh start. It's funny that something as simple as changing furniture around helped me with the transition back home.

That afternoon I sat on my bed as everyone continued to unpack my things and finish with our newly changed apartment. I sat there and began my Bliss Jounral, something that Chris the Buddhist had suggested I write. I started by listing all of the things I could think of that I was grateful for. Sunshine, family, Ethan, the gospel, slip 'n slides, swimming pools, Texas, air comditioning, high heels, pretty earrings...the list went on and on. I would continue to add to that journal on a daily basis. Whenever I started to feel panic, anxiety, depression, or anything that could get me down, I was to write anything down that was positive and happy. Chris' reasoning behind this journal was "fake it until you make it".

Thursday, July 24, 2008


This has been a very busy week! I will try to update this blog on Saturday. Sit tight!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Episode 7- The Release

There are million details about my hospital saga that I'm leaving out because it is so long and so depressing. I had mixed feelings about my release. I was so excited to get back my little boy, but I was terrified of being on my own again. Aside from what I'd learned from Chris, I had no tools other than a new collection of medication. There was still no solid explanation of my disorder. Upon release, you have to have a "support" system in place.

#1- You have to have friends and/or family to help you in a time of turmoil.

#2- You have to have a psychologist set up with an imminent appointment.

#3- You have to have a medical doctor who can prescribe you meds, preferably a psychiatrist.

I would continue seeing Schneiman. So far he had been the only doctor to help in any way. For my meds, Dr. Brown had been contacted and had a conference with my psychiatrist from the hospital. He agreed and felt comfortable handling my meds and my prenatal care from there on out.

In my discharge orders, the psychiatrist gave me prescriptions for the meds which I had been on during my lengthy stay. Trazadone, Ambien, Ativan, and Xanex. He only gave me a one month supply in my Rx. So I was to leave the hospital, fill my prescriptions, and never call them again. As soon as I walked through those doors I was on my own and they would wash their hands of me.

As I walked through the big electronic doors of the 4th floor, the doors which I had never been aloud to go near unless a doctor or nurse was with me, I felt so scared. What would happen in the real world? How would I handle things? What if I stopped sleeping again? My mind was cluttered with fears and concerns. I knew things would never be the same when I left there. Things seem permanently altered from what they had been weeks before.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Episode 6- OCD

During my life I have always been a perfectionist in some aspects. I think that most of us are to some degree. Perfectionism can be a great thing, but as I stayed in the hospital the doctors took my level of perfectionism and maginified it several degrees. They theorized that it was why I snapped. They tried to label me OCD.

It really bothers me when people take this serious disorder and label themselves this. It is so severe and if you've ever met someone who genuinely has it, you should thank your lucky stars that you are not just like order in your life.

I was shocked that the doctors labeled me this, but I see why they did so. It's an easy fix with medication. Many of our one on one sessions included "treatment" for this disorder. And when I say treatment, I mean an increased dosage of one thing or another.

This is what really makes me loathe psychiatrists. As I said before, they seek out drama in patients who don't have any to offer. They did this to me time and time again. They take a tiny instance of insanity and enlarge it 1000x until you actually believe that you must be crazy or diseased. And they are not interested in really fixing the underlying problem.

Not once during my stay there did a doctor try to figure out what happened that night. I know now exactly what happened to me, but it's taken me three years to figure it out. If only someone had thrown away their Rx pad and not imediately thought to add this med or that med to the mix. Figure out what happened that night of July 4th and fix the problem. No one ever did that. Instead I was left with an incredible amount of medication, absolutely no freedoms or rights, a fetus I was sure had been harmed, and doctors who thought I had been molested as a child.

Episode 5- The Hospital

Imagine what you have seen in the movies about psych hospitals. Yes, it was almost that bad.

Most, if not all, of the patients in there had severe problems that had been with them for years. Each day I attended group after group session. Oh talk about depressing. It was so dangerous for me to hear people's stories. Abuse, molestation, death, multi-personalities, attempted suicide, rape, drug addiction, depression, etc. The list is infinite of the things I listened to hour after hour. If you weren't depressed upon arrival at the facility, within a few hours you would want to put a bullet into your own brain.

Whenever it came time for me to talk I was at loss of what to say. I had no crazy stories to tell. My life up to that point had been so textbook and boring in a way. Boring in a GOOD way, in fact. I couldn't explain to people that I really had no problems or issues up until July 4th when something snapped in my brain. However, psychiatrists are not interested in hearing boring stories. They searched and prodded through my brains until they could come up with something that satisfied their need for drama. I hated group!

Every other night was a group session that I looked forward to. The counselor's name was Chris and he was a practicing Buddhist. In that group we sat around and we were not aloud to talk about anything negative. We discussed ways to cope through very positive and drug free methods. Each night I would walk out of there feeling so alive and hopeful. I loved Chris! I would later take the principles I learned from him and apply them in my life. And it is those principles that I still use on a daily basis all this time later.

Drugs were thrown at me from every angle. Sleep did not come to me unless I was heavily medicated, and even then it was weak and restless. The doctors in there decided that Ativan should be my best friend. I could tell within a week that I was craving it and I would get the shakes hours before my next dose. They told me not to worry because Ativan was not addicting. Oh how they lied to me.

On one occasion a new demon was introduced into my life.
Trazadone. On one of my firsts nights there they gave me 100 mg of Trazadone to take. The next morning I was filled with unexplainable rage. All day long I cried and screamed and hated the world. The doctors took this to mean that I was anxious and unmanageable so they upped my dosage of Ativan. Then a higher dose of Ambien would follow at night. It's no wonder that we walked around with drool hanging from our mouths. They kept me so medicated that I could barely tell up from down. I would later discover I had a severe addiction to Trazadone that almost took my life.

Ethan and Cody came to see me on a few occasions and it was miserable. I wasn't the same mommy that Ethan had known just days before. I was crazy and he could tell. Cody and I would sit there in silence, neither of us knowing what to say. Before my release he came up to the hospital for a "family meeting" between us and a counselor. That meeting was almost the end of our marriage. We were so confused and scared and we didn't know what to do from there. I knew in my heart that I entered the facility as a scared girl with some sort of unexplained disorder, but I was leaving as a drug addict. Cody knew this too.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Episode 4- The Monster

The monster stayed with me all night long. Cody says that is what I called the dark figure that I saw and heard. Tuesday morning Jane came over again and she forced me to eat. She all but shoved food into my mouth and made me chew and I gagged and cried as I ate it.

By late morning Cody and I were sitting back in Schneiman's office. I don't remember much from that session, but I do recall sitting there again wearing dark sunglasses and telling him about the moster. Cody and Schneiman were both afraid as I relayed the experience. I remember Schneiman asking me point blank "Do you want to drink the Drain-O?.....Do you think you will hurt yourself or someone else?" I think the latter question must have been directed more at Cody because I was pretty incoherent.

Schneiman made some phone calls and later that day I was sitting in an evaluation room on the 4th floor of the hospital. The entire 4th floor was the psychiatric unit. I was very out of it, but I was aware enough to be terrified at the thought of staying in that place. It was much like out of a movie with patients walking around in hospital clothes with looks of despair on their faces. Doctors wandered the halls in white lab coats and it smelled of industrial strength cleaner.

I sat on the bed in my room as a counselor asked me many questions. What day is it, what is the year, who was the first U.S. president, what is your address, count backwards from 10, remember this series of words and repeat it to me later...etc. After she left the room another guy came in and drew several viles of blood. Then a nurse came in, gave me a couple of pills, and she left a tray of food that I was forced to eat. The amount of food eaten, I'd come to find out, would be recorded after each meal.

I sat in that cold and sterile room and felt so alone and small. My world had just been ripped out from under me and I was helpless. I kept thinking about the baby in my belly and at that moment I hated it. I wanted desperately to end the pregnancy. Maybe I'd fall down the stairs. Maybe I'd trip and fall on a knife and if I was lucky, I would die too. The pills the nurse had given me, whatever they were, kicked in and the room began to spin. The next thing I knew it was dark outside.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Episode 3- Celexa & Xanex

Friday was the best night yet and it felt like a good dream. I took an Ambien, sat down on the couch to wind down with the TV, and in a short while I wandered into bed. I laid my head on the pillow and it felt like I was on a cloud moving down a conveyor belt. The world was a big marshmallow.

I gently drifted off to sleep and slept for four hours...then suddenly my eyes shot open and BAM!!! It was 2:00 in the morning and I was wide awake. As hard as I tried ti fall back asleep, the more frazzled I became and the all too familar feeling of panic started to take over again. But somehow I got it under control and I was somewhat calm until the sun came up. Saturday morning I figured that four hours of sleep was far better than none, and I felt my body had recharged just enough to feel human again. I still felt like I was in a London fog, but I was grateful for any ounce of sleep at this point.

Saturday night was an exact repeat of Friday. Four hours, then BAM!!! Sunday night, again the exact same. Like clockwork I shot wide awake four hours later and was awake for good. Over the weekend I did a mediocre job at keeping my panic attacks at bay. I had a few, but they weren't as often as they had been before. The four hours of nightly sleep I was getting was just enough.

However, Monday morning Jane called and I couldn't control myself. I "emotionally vommited" all over the phone and she rushed right over. Oh how I was grateful she was in town. She tried her best to keep me sane all day. We went for walks, washed her car, went to her favorite yarn shop, anything to distract me. But all day long tears streamed down my face. Why was I feeling like this? What had happened to my once normal mind and body? Had I been cursed? Did God suddenly have a score to settle?

Jane said I needed to call Dr. Brown and start on an antidepressant. She had experince with this due to some emotional and hormal problems and she convinced me to call him. That evening an Rx of
Celexa (Citalopram) and Xanex (Alprazolam) was in my hand.

Jane said that I was likely going to be so relaxed and sleepy after I took it. Dr. Brown said it was safe to take Celexa, Xanex and Ambien together so again, right before bed time I swallowed the cocktail.

To shorten a gruesome and long story, I was awake 100% of that night and I was hallucinating big time. I constantly saw a dark shadow-like figure moving around the room. Scared only touches the surface of what I was feeling. Not only was I seeing things, I was hearing a voice too. It kept telling me that I needed to drink Drain-O. I lied on the floor of the living room most of the night seeing this figure and hearing it's voice.

Episode 2- Dr. Brown & Dr. Schneiman

Cody's brother and his wife were out of the country on vacation so his mom (Jane) was in town babysitting their little boy. Jane came over the day after the ER incident and was in and out of our house a lot during the week. She turned out to be a Godsend and practically took over Mommy duties to Ethan.

Night after night passed and still I did not sleep. Going that long with out sleep will do crazy things to your head. I caved and on two different nights I took an Ativan pill. I hated myself for doing it because the ER doctor's words kept running through my brain. I averaged two hours of sleep each night.

I had an appointment to see my OB, a new doctor whom I'd never met before who was recommended by an acquaintance. I was sad that my OB with Ethan had retired and was currently serving as a mission president in Florida. On day four of virtually no sleep Cody and I went in to see Dr. Brown.

It was the typical first appointment including all of the standard exams. I thought that when I saw the baby on the ultrasound that I would feel better about things. I felt that I needed to see the baby and the beating heart to know that things were okay and that the drug and my mental state had not harmed her. The ultrasound confirmed that things were healthy and viable, as far as he could see at that point anyway.

Cody and I then sat in Dr. Brown's office to discuss things. I explained to him everything that had taken place in the previous days and I wanted desperately for him to say "Oh, this has all happened because.....and here is the magic fix to get things back to normal." No such words were spoken and he was as baffled as we were. He said that Ativan wasn't healthy for pregnancy and that I should dump the rest of it. However, he gave me no alternative. We left there feeling just as confused and frustrated as when we entered the office.

By Friday things were scary bad. I hadn't eaten in days and my mind was doing funky things. I began to have mild hallucinations at this point and panic attacks were extremely regular. Cody made some calls and got me an appointment that day to see Dr. Schneiman, a psychologist who specialized in panic disorders and phobias.

I sat during our first session that afternoon in a state of utter despair. The world around me seemed surreal, yet all TOO real at the same time. I sat in his office wearing sunglasses because every muscle in my body was extremely weakened, even the pupils in my eyes and they couldn't regulate constriction to block out light.

Dr. Schneiman had a theory that the July 4th incident of no sleep triggered my
"fight or flight" response and that for some reason my body had not been able to shut it off. He said "The first thing we have to do here is get you sleeping, at any cost. Your health MUST come before the health of the baby, but let's make it a goal to keep both of you in perfect health." He then called Dr. Brown and they discussed some safe alternatives to Ativan. Dr. Brown called in a prescription for Ambien. I'd seen the commercials and I figured that this would in fact be the magic fix. Get me sleeping, problem solved!

Aahh, I felt like I could breathe a sigh of relief. We left the office that day feeling hopeful because Dr. Schneiman had been so proactive. We headed to the pharmacy.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Episode 1- The Night That Changed Everything

My pregnancy with Ethan was textbook and normal. Nothing went wrong there so I fully expected my pregnancy with Hailey to be the same. Never before in my life had I experienced any kind of emotional trauma, depression, or unexplained anxiety. However, when I was 10 weeks pregnant something did go wrong. Terribly wrong.

It was July 4, 2005 and I had trouble sleeping that night. In fact, it turned out to be a 100% sleepless night for me. Everyone has a night like that at least once in their lifetime so I racked it up to nothing more than a meer inconvenience.

The next day was hard and I was exhausted, but I managed okay. That afternoon I drove to the store and picked up some Unisom. I had taken it before and it helped me sleep, so I thought nothing of it. That night I took the recommended dose and I sat down in a chair and waited to get drowsy. Drowsiness came, so I went onto bed and figured Cody would soon follow. When I got into bed I felt very strange. Not sleepy strange, more manufactured sleepy strange. When Cody came to bed I shot wide awake and was very annoyed that I hadn't fallen asleep like I thought I would.

I was so very tired from not sleeping the night before. I didn't understand why I didn't fall asleep upon hitting the pillow. I wandered out into the living room and laid down on the couch. The Carson Daily show was on TV and he was interviewing Jenny McArthy. I began to get jittery and my mind was racing. The harder I tried to control it, the more I shook. My heart began to race and I started hyperventilating. I don't know what compelled me to do this, but I took another dose of Unisom.

Within an hour I was out of control shaking and hyperventilating. I didn't know it at the time, but this was the first panic attack I'd ever had. We ended up in the ER that night because neither of us knew what was happening to me. They helped me get some carbon dioxide into my lungs and I started to feel a little better, but I was oh so weak and couldn't calm my nerves. They said I was having a severe panic attack.

The poor ER doc was at a loss of what to do for this crazy pregnant lady. He called an on call OB and he said to give me Ativan (the generic is Lorazepam). Ativan is a tranquilizer (benzodiazepine) that is a risk category C for pregnant women. It gets through the placenta and in some cases, can harm the baby. The ER doc gave me 1 mg and a Rx for 5 more mg. He told me (and I quote) "This is risky for the baby. Take these remaining pills only in a dire situation because it is harmful". He told me all of this AFTER I took the 1 mg.

I started to freak out even more because I started picturing a deformed fetus. We were discharged from the ER and when we got home I slept for two hours. That is all I slept for the next two days. That first dose of Ativan was the start of my love/hate for these drugs.

My Purpose

I've thought long and hard about starting this blog. The substance of this blog will be considered very controversial. Some may find it offensive. There is a slim chance I may actually damage relationships as a result. It's a risk I'm willing to take because what I will be journaling and publishing is very near and dear to my heart. The journey I have traveled over the last three years has a purpose. I've known it from day one, but it hasn't been until recently that the purpose was made manifest to me.

I hope that you, my reader, will read what I write with the understanding that it all stems from my own precious and personal experience, and that I write these things with the best of intentions. It is not my intent to belittle anyone or criticize. It is my intent to enlighten. I hope that through my own experience you will gain a greater knowledge of what I have been through and how I have risen above it. I truly believe that the Lord gave me this experience so others can learn from it. Have fun reading and get ready for a wild ride.

I will try to post something daily, but sometimes (as often happens in life) it could get pushed to the back burner and a weekly post will be all I can manage. But I hope you will check back often to see what this ex-junkie has to talk about.

My journey over these years is long and it will be written in "episodes", much like a TV drama. Prepare to read it in bits and pieces, not all at once because I do not have time to sit down and write it all in one sitting. Along the way I will post tips and advice for coping and such things that I have found to be helpful. With each episode I will pick up right where I left off before. Enjoy!