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It feels like forever since I posted last. I’m also terribly behind on Dannan’s blog, and on replying to the heap of email in my inbox.  However, I am beginning to allow myself to be the awful correspondent that I always have been, but which I have fought against. Three cheers for self-growth!!

At any rate, things were pretty rough here at The Muse Asylum.  The “trial” med that I was stuck on for three months wasn’t doing me any favours.  Neither was my psychiatrist’s office assistant, who couldn’t find me even a minute of his time.  But that’s a whole other rant, which I might actually have already ranted.

On February 19th, I rounded the corner, even though I didn’t realize it at the time.  That was the day I made my first trip to OneSouth, our local psych ward.  To sum up how I got there (because I’m too lazy to edit):  I was on one heck of a lot of meds, which all had nasty side effects that got together, had a party, and increased exponentially.   And as I’ve mentioned,  my past year has been rough in terms of access to a psychiatrist;  when my original Psydoc closed his practice in December of 2007, he referred me to a great female psydoc named Dr. F.  She was super, except for the fact that she and her husband decided that they didn’t like it here and moved to the Lower Mainland in June of 2008.  Long story short, I didn’t see anyone from June until November, and that was too long.

In November, my new guy (Dr. W.) saw me. I think he will prove to be fabulous if a person can actually get in to see him.  We decided to try a(nother) new med, on the theory that I would see him once a month for at least a year.  Except that he is supremely busy, and I am on the cancellation list until July of 2009.  (From then on, I do have a monthly appointment with him, if I can actually make it until then.)

From mid-December, no matter what we told the office assistant, I couldn’t get in to see Dr. W.  It didn’t seem to matter that I ended up moving home with Mom and Dad because I didn’t feel safe at home alone all day, or that my mood had absolutely plummeted on the new med.  Nothing would get me an appointment.

Finally, The Therapist suggested we tell her that it was “urgent”, which is apparently a code word that opens doors as if by magic.  Except.   Except her response was that their office doesn’t handle “emergencies”, so if it was urgent, I needed to go to the ER or to my GP.

Finally, on February 19th, Mom took me to my GP.  By this time, I was in a very bad way.  GP said she couldn’t do anything except admit me to OneSouth.  I didn’t want to go (OH, how BADLY I didn’t want to go), but I told Mom and GP that I was in no position to be making decisions for myself.  And this is how I came to be admitted (involuntarily, despite both my consent and Mom’s – the only way to get a bed was to go involuntarily), and how life started to be a bit brighter.

I have always been terrified of going to the hospital.  I have never been in the hospital overnight, other than for two sleep studies.  And when I practiced law, a number of my firm’s clients were folks with various mental illnesses.  Often when they called, it was from the psych ward.  And did they ever have awful things to say about it!  It’s quite ironic, actually, that their descriptions would foster this great fear in me.  When I think back to those days, one former client in particular comes to my mind, and I wouldn’t have considered here to be a credible witness on any other issue.  One of the more prominent features of her illness was that she was delusional;  most of what she told us was considered to be questionable in terms of it’s actual basis in reality, until further investigation was done.

However, the lasting effect of her (and others’) accounts of life on the psych ward was that I became extremely afraid of the place.  Certainly, at the beginning, a big part of the fear was probably that I wouldn’t, couldn’t, be admitted to the very ward ward where my clients could be.  (My whole adventure with mental illness began in Victoria, and it really was a possibility that such a situation could have happened.)  Thus began more than nine years of absolute refusal to be admitted to any psych ward (even after I left Victoria), and absolute terror of what would happen to me if I were admitted.

Despite my terror, OneSouth is a good place.  Even the isolation ward (where one wears yellow baggy pajamas and has a bare cinderblock room with only a bed, a pillow, and a blanket) isn’t so bad.  I was terrified when I got there, even under the influence of a hefty dose of Haldol. At GP’s office, I literally begged my mother not to send me to OneSouth.  I even at one point promised her that I wouldn’t be ill anymore, I would be better, if only I didn’t have to go.  In the circumstances, I am very proud of her for having made the decision to have me admitted anyway.

I calmed myself down once I was in the “cell”, mostly because I knew I wouldn’t be allowed to go home if I was hysterical.  (Suffice it to say, I could never have actually calmed myself if it weren’t for the shot of Haldol.)  I was, at first, determined to go home as soon as humanly possible (hopefully the next morning, if not sooner).  As time passed, I began thinking that the isolation ward wasn’t such a bad place to be. (I may write more about this in another post.)

I got to see Dr. W. the next afternoon (Friday).  How do you like that?  Three months of begging for a moment of his time…  Admittedly, I wasn’t begging him, but rather his office assistant.  Anyway.  He transferred me to the open side of the ward as soon as we had finished meeting. Our decision was to take me off all of my psych meds so we could start all over again. No better place to do that than in the hospital.

I’m now on a med called Remeron (mirtazapine), and I was in a good place to go off everything else. And I finally got to see for myself what the psych ward was all about.  I have a friend who told me once about one of her other friends who called her times in the psych ward a vacation.  I couldn’t imagine before how anyone could say such a thing, but it is in reality a very nice place to be. Rooms of four, a richly-appointed lounge with a pool table, a table-top curling game, a ping pong table, a piano, board games and puzzles, and lavish comfy chairs. An open kitchen where a person helps herself to whatever she want at any time. A TV room, nurses to look after anything a person needs, and time to do whatever a person wants. I had a grounds pass, so I wasn’t confined to the ward.As long as I wrote on the chalkboard by the nurses’ station that I was going for a walk, I could do it.

I was there from the Thursday of the GP appointment until the following Monday, and it was the best decision I never made.  (I have thanked both my mother and GP many times for finally overruling my fearful protests.)  And, so far, the new med is working well (knock on wood). Not too many side effects (and most of myformer side effects are gone!). I am very sleepy all the time (somnolence being the #1 side effect), and I’m pretty dizzy most of the time (the #2). My appetite is also way crazy (another side effect), but I’m trying to keep my eating in reasonable check.  I had also decided that if I had to choose, I would choose sane and balanced over keeping my girlish (ha ha!) figure.

The big thing:  my mood is better than it has been in many months, and my anxiety (which had become almost unmanageable) is well in control. I haven’t really been doing well since June of 2006 (when I went off all meds to do my second sleep study, which in the end told me absolutely nothing), but I think that I might have turned the corner.

Wow, what a long story.  All to get to the point of writing this:  as I wrote, I am doing better than I have in a very long time.  I nap a lot;  nothing like compulsory napping to make a person feel four years old.  But when I was in my very bad state, having to nap everyday sounded a hell of a lot better than the way I was feeling.  So I’m holding to that memory, and I’m also happy to say that the somnolence is lessening as time passes.

The dizziness, not so much.  I did a trial drive to the grocery store yesterday, having decided that I was okay to be on the roads.  (Fortunately, the grocery store is quite close to my parents’ house, and I can get there and back on roads that are virtually empty of people at the time of day I tried this.)  Turns out, sitting around all day and only moving around the house is a misleading test of how dizzy I am.  I drove home very carefully, on the deserted roads.  So I have to give up some of my independence and allow other people to drive me places.  (Have I mentioned that public transit makes me very anxious?)  And I even have to ask people for rides, which is an exercise that The Therapist will be very happy to hear about.

My appetite is still enormous;  indeed, it seem to grown everyday.  I could eat the world, that’s how it feels.  So we’ve stocked up on fruit, veggies, cereal bars, rice cakes, cheese and crackers, and the like.  I’m not trying to diet, but if I’m going to eat the world, I might as well start on the healthier part.  Get some of my recommended servings from the food pyramid.

I am slowly starting to get back to my routine.  I’m going out to dinner with The Roomie tonight, and tomorrow I am going to a Chamber of Commerce social for the SPCA.  I’m posting here, and I’m catching up gradually on the many posts piled in my Google reader.  I’ll post something soon for Dannan, too.  It’s all so much better than it’s been in so long, I can’t even begin to tell you (even though my 1800 words so far are probably far too long of a start!)

That’s the update.  Now for the next part….  Elton John gives me shivers!

I was watching the last episode of The Bachelor last night (no, I’m not going to bother linking to it;  Google it if you need to find out what I’m talking about), as well as their post-competition wrap-up shows.  (Yes, I watch terrible t.v.  You don’t have to watch it with me, so let me have my vice in peace.)  During the commerical break, I was channel-surfing, and I found this:  Elton John: Live at the Royal Opera House.  As long as I can see him perform songs like “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” and “Your Song”, the world is a wonderful place.

Seriously, hearing him play these songs with a 90-piece symphony sent shivers through me.  And at the time, I was thinking:  I must always remember that life is worth living so long as there is music out there that can send chills through my entire body when I hear it.

Music is so powerful, such a gift to humanity.  For me, many pieces of music (from all sorts of different genres) evoke this kind of response.  Elton John (at least his older work) is an example.  If death metal, hip hop or even Marilyn Manson give you chills, then I’m glad for it.  Even if I don’t understand it, I’m glad for it.  If there’s someone out there with this kind of musical taste who can tell me that it makes you shiver, please leave a comment.  For me, this is the magic of music, and I’m curious to know if you fans feel the same way.

Enough for today.  I’ve got many other ideas for posts bubbling away in my brain, so hopefully my next post will be soon!

Here in Canada, this coming weekend is our Thanksgiving weekend.  So, instead of doing a TT about pet peeves, I decided to do one about things I am thankful for.  I can always bitch about my pet peeves next week.  🙂

1.  I am thankful for my parents, who are strong, wise, generous, and who love me so very much.

2.  I am thankful for my best buddy, Dannan, the little brown dog.  He makes it possible for me to get up every morning and smile.

3.  I am thankful for my sisters and brother (Sis1, Sis2, and Brother Bear).  They are possibly the best siblings in the world;  certainly better than I deserve sometimes!

4.  I am thankful for my best friend, Roomie.  She is a strong support, and has been instrumental in my recovery.

5.  I am thankful that I had my breakdown, because I am much better off than I would have been if it hadn’t happened.

6.  I am thankful for my counsellor, DD, who is exactly what I want and need in a therapist.

7.  I am thankful I live in Canada (sorry, non-Canadians), because I am Canadian.  (If you happen to be Canadian, I think you know what that means!)

8.  I am thankful that I have a warm, secure place to live and food to eat when I’m hungry.

9.  I am thankful for all of the wonderful people who work on behalf of animals and children, who need others to be their advocates.

10.  I am thankful that my mother instilled in me a love of reading.

11.  I am thankful that I started my blogs.  I have met wonderful people, laughed A LOT, seen some absolutely amazing photographs, and managed to write fairly consistently.

12.  I am thankful for memes like Thursday Thirteen, because they lead me to new blogs that I might never have otherwise discovered.

13.  Finally, I am thankful that I have so many wonderful friends, who make me laugh, let me know I’m loved, and keep having faith in me.  And are there to be my support when I would just fall over without them.

For more Thursday Thirteens, check out Beth’s super site!

Wow, it’s been quite an eventful few days here at the Muse Asylum.  We’ve been invaded, and I’m starting to get really tired of it.

Warning:  This post is about spiders, so if you have a fear of them, or just don’t want to read about them, thanks for coming and do come again.  I almost never post about spiders, so most of my posts will be safe for you.


Excuse the massive spaces here;  I used to be arachnophobic, and even to hear or read about them panicked me.  So, in empathy with others so afflicted, I am trying my best to let them avoid it.

All righty then.  For whatever reason, our house has been invaded by large brown spiders.  Including leg span, about the size of a loonie, for you Canadian readers.  For non-Canadians, think perhaps those big Vegas poker chips.

We always have some of these ugly guys around, especially heading in to fall.  And here in the Loops, it has been fall for weeks, despite what the calendar may say.  One here, one there…  But I have killed at least a dozen in two days, and one bugger last night that startled me, causing me to screech and throw up my hands, which caused him (it?  I always think of spiders as male, which probably says too much about me.  Never mind.) to flee.  Apparently, it’s true:  they are as afraid of us as (some of us) are of them.

It is fortunate that this is the week that they all decided to visit, because if Roomie had been here, she would have needed resuscitation, and perhaps intravenous sedation.  She has one of the worst cases of arachnophobia as I’ve seen.  She is safe in Victoria, and ignorant of what’s been happening here.

And really, I used to have quite a case of it myself.  It’s only recently that I have developed my blase’ approach to the eight-legged freaks.  All my life, I’ve been terrified by them.  At least, up until about two years ago, when I found out that there are scarier things in the world.  Such as mice in the house.  Now they are truly frightening!  My incredibly virulent fear of mice dwarfs any fear I had of spiders by about ten million times.

Don’t get me wrong;  I don’t like spiders.  I really wish they’d stay outside.  If they stay outside, I have always had a “live and let live” philosophy.  But dammit, come into the house, and you’re dead, sucka.  The smaller the spider, the better I deal with it.  So these larger guys are trying my nerves.

It’s not the fact that there’s been a big brown to deal with.  Or even two, or three.  But dammit, this relentless campaign is wearing me down.  The sheer numbers in the last two days has me teetering on the verge of frantic.  It doesn’t help, of course, that other things in my life have shot my anxiety to extreme levels.  That is why the sight of another spider within a half hour of the spider before, running across the living room floor, caused me to scream in frustration.

I went on a mad rampage of the grocery stores to see if any of them had any chestnuts in yet.  For those of you who don’t know, if you take some chestnuts and use a hammer and nail to make a hole in the shell, then scatter them around the house, they make darn good spider repellent.  Too early for chestnuts, though.

So when I got home, I grabbed the can of Raid, locked the dogs in the house, and went outside and proceeded to gas myself.  And also to spray the whole perimeter of the house.  With any luck, it’ll help.  Roomie comes home this weekend, and I am the resident spider-killer.  Her panic won’t help my overall anxiety level, and I’m hoping that this Raid stuff is a solution that will take effect quickly.

Bah.  Stupid arachnids.  Stay the hell outside, where you belong.  We don’t need to be at war.  Live and let live, and we can co-exist nicely.

I’m absolutely thrilled to announce that I might just have found the perfect purse for me! Roomie talks about the purse that epitomizes who she’d like to be; I’m not sure I’m prepared to go that far, but I have never been sooooooo excited about a purse!

Here is the old, ratty summer purse:

Please excuse the dog hair on the couch.  Also the malformation of the cushion due to Dannan’s delusion that he is as small as the Miniature Pinschers we live with, and can therefore perch on the back of the sofa.

I’ve seen some other blogs about purses and what they carry (I’m too lazy to look up all the links).  So here’s my contribution:

I haven’t yet figured out how to put fancy arrows and writing onto a picture yet, so here’s what all this crap is:  2 year calendar, Dentyne Fire gum, envelope containing my refill cheques, lip balm, kleenex, cell phone, inhaler, meds, paperclip (?), quarters for the grocery carts, giant Lifesaver, pen, two notebooks, keys, business cards, wallet, deodorant (you never know…), and prescription sunglasses in case.  (You are no doubt ecstatic to have had me tell you all that.)

But here, HERE, is the Best Purse in the World:

I wasn’t sure that the fabulousness of the purple would show up on the red couch, so here it is on the seat of our recumbent exercise bike (yes, we seriously do have one):

Please ignore the junk in the background.  And get used to reading that;  clutter is my life.

The Best Purse in the World has lots of dividers inside it, which I love.  As you saw, I carry a whole lot of crap in my purse, so it’s nice to have it all segregated into sections.

I know that you can’t see all the FABULOUSNESS of the purse, and for that, I blame my photography skills.  You’ll have to trust me on this one.

Well, I finally accepted that no kitchen fairy was going to come and clean up our kitchen (I think that such fairies are called brownies, but I could be wrong), so I dragged my butt off the couch and got to it.  I really don’t mind washing dishes, once I start.  It’s the getting started that takes me forever.

One of the things I noticed was that I had quite the collection of empty prescription pill bottles on the counter.  (I would have taken a picture, but I didn’t think of it; and if I had, I would never have been able to take a picture that didn’t show what a disaster the kitchen was.  Seriously, way worse than you can imagine.)  It looked like we hosted a successful pharm party, and all the empties were stacked up waiting to be cashed in.  All those plastic bottles, made of that orange-tinted plastic and topped with those white child-proof lids.  I take a lot of pills.

I also listened to a new CD that Roomie got the other day.  Well, it’s not actually such a new (as in newly released) CD, as much as it is one that we just got.  It’s Acoustic Live in London! by the band Kane.  The lead singer is Christian Kane, who played Lindsey McDonald, the first evil adversary at Wolfram and Hart.  What’s that you say?  You don’t know what I’m talking about?  Get thee to Future Shop (or wherever you get DVDs where you are) and check out the series Angel.  You won’t be disappointed.  (Well, you might be, but don’t tell me about it.  I take my Angel seriously.)  Lindsey McDonald, aside from sharing the same first name with me, is about the yummiest villain ever.  Don’t get me wrong, my heart belongs to Angel, but damn!

Ahem, where was I?  Yes, the new CD.  Roomie told me that I really had to listen to it, it was great.  I told myself, no new CD until you clean the kitchen, missy.  (And yes, I do talk to myself.  Frequently.)  And for me, the best part of housework and chores is the music.  Loud, and preferably something I can sing along to.  (I try to do my housework when I’m alone in the house, because I don’t think it’s something people need to witness.)

Finally, my browser loaded the website for Kane, and I can link to it.  If you go there, don’t get discouraged if your browser says the site is busy.  Keep trying;  it’s worth it.  I’m not great at categorizing music, but they’re kind of bluesy, kind of country.  Kind of awesome!

Anyway, I think that what I was trying to say is that it is FANTASTIC.

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