Better Living Through Chemistry

Words.

They’re only words.

Groupings of letters in a particular order that provide a visual representation of what we want to communicate.  So why can’t I find the words to put down on paper.  In the past, I would write 15 to 50 pages a day!  Now – I struggle to complete a paragraph.

I feel bottle up.  I feel stymied.  I have writer’s block.  Why?

I believe it’s the medication.  And yet the medication is doing good things too.

Have the medications helped or hindered?

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On the plus side, I’m without hallucinations for the first time in over 48 years.  Also for the first time in over 38 years I don’t see suicide as a solution for my problems.  Yea medication!

Life without hallucinations is new for me really.  I used them to cope with the injuries of my past.  They were my unconscious’s representation of hurts I couldn’t, or wouldn’t, consciously deal with.  Without them I am forced to now deal with those hurts and develop healthy coping skills – and I am.

Life without suicidal thoughts is amazing.  I’m finding hope for the future and visualizing a future that goes beyond the end of the day.  My future goes on for years now.  It’s a strange, but good, feeling to want to see old age and all the adventures between today and the day I pass due to natural causes.

On the minus side, I feel like my creativity is stifled.  I’m having cognitive challenges that hinder my ability to write.  I find that the leveling of my emotions, that is the minimization of mood swings from high to low, has suffocated my motivation for not only writing but also such passions as reading and learning new things.

The emotion leveling has also impacted how I react in situations in which I should feel great joy or great sorrow.  I find I feel sorry to a greater degree than joy.  Maybe the antidepressant isn’t the right one for me or the wrong dosage.  Finding the right medications is a process and can be a lengthy effort.  But I feel it’s worth it.

Perhaps the down side issues will right themselves over time.  I’ve been on these medications now for about two months.  Maybe it will take a few more months to normalize my body’s chemistry and return to the writing whiz I was.  I miss my writing.  It’s a good, healthy, outlet for my mental stresses.  I find writing to also be a good place to work out emotional strains.  Consequently, I find myself easily upset over minor issues.  That’s not something I want in the ‘new’ me.

You might ask if I’d seek medications if I knew I’d find myself in this dry, arid, land of writing before taking the medications.  My answer is a definite yes.  I like being hallucination free.  I like not dwelling on suicide.  I like life for the first time in over four decades!  At times I feel young, clean, fresh and worthy of other people’s love and support.  What a wonderful set of emotions!

Would I recommend medication for others like me?  I’m no doctor but I would tell others to explore the possibilities with qualified professionals.  Life can be better for those living in their own personal prison of mental illness.  It was for me.

jdoe

Blessed In Exile

Here we are at the final installment for this series of postings.  It has been, for me, an arduous task of writing about very difficult topics.  My plate of spaghetti has many other strands that I have to chew through in my healing process, but after today we can sop up the sauce of this topic, as I have forgiven and moved on. 

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Finally, I imploded and pursued illegal pornography.

It may be hard to believe but for me, my case is a blessing.  

There is joy in the tribulation.

How can I say that when I’ve left my wife to deal with life all alone?  It opened the door for me to get the help I needed, still need.  I do not recommend my path as the path to healing but if it hadn’t happened I’m sure I’d be dead today due to suicide.  Sounds dramatic but it’s true.  And sad.

Help for me came from a talented and competent psychologist well trained in sexual recovery as well as addiction.  I have to admit that admitting I was an addict and hearing the diagnoses of PTSD, Delusional Disorder, and Dissociative Disorder was scary because it also meant out of control psychologically.  Yet once I knew what was wrong I could face it head on and use my intellect in a healthy, productive way.  The thing I valued most had a different purpose: uncover and heal verses cover up and hurt.  Another blessing!

Where am I today? 

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I’m proud to say I’m a rehabilitated addict.  I’ll always be an addict – that’s the nature of the beast, the monkey, yet it’s under control for the first time in over 45 years.  You might say, “of course it is, you’re in prison,” but I assure you that pornography is readily available and cheap.  I see today the horror in addiction and use and in fact its very existence.  I read of younger and younger (children!) people viewing it on the internet and so developing ill-defined views/beliefs/perspectives on human sexuality and intimacy.  It is a scourge.

As for addressing the hurts of my childhood, I feel I’ve done pretty much what I can.  There are no answers for all the ‘why’ questions.  The relative that abused me is gone yet I still love and miss them – I hold no ill feelings.  I do however have a new understanding of their role in my life.  Now I know them to be someone as broken as me, suffering their own hurts, who acted inappropriately and in so doing aiding, driving, my ill developed views and beliefs around human sexuality and intimacy.

My childhood was far from normal and holistically healthy in many measures.  That is not to say there weren’t times of true childhood though.  I had loving parents, siblings, fights, resentments, laughs, and healthy love.  Separating the good from the bad has not been easy but I believe I finally have.

What’s left? 

The PTSD, its associated depression, the hallucinations and much of the work to overcome and/or manage their effects.

What help is available in prison? 

Honestly, very little at my location and other non-medical locations.  Unless you’re horribly non-functioning and/or a danger to yourself and/or others you won’t get the help you really need.

They work to keep you stable, not heal. 

I’m blessed that the psychologist, Julie, I worked with outside is still working with me by letter while I’m here.  She is as committed to my full recovery as I am.  The challenge is in the trying to do this kind of work through writings with weeks between responses.  But I write.

I want out of the mental illness prison.  I do understand though that much of it is about management and understanding.  Recovery may mean I think differently and manage the left over.

I began my first medication in July of 2014.  It is a mood stabilizer to help with the suicidal thoughts and has helped some.  I also began my first medication for the hallucinations in August of this year, 2016.  I had to go off due to the side effects.  I began a second medication but it’s too early to judge effectiveness or side effects.  More to come.

I wonder what life without all the people, voices and noises will be like.  I wonder if I’ll feel more human or lost without them.  I do know they are all unhealthy coping mechanisms and I, like a child, have to learn appropriate and healthy coping mechanisms.

Can you teach a 53 year old dog new tricks? 

I’m committed but I wonder, am I capable? 

Time will tell. 

~ jdoe

Pasta For One, But Many To Feed

In Life Is Like A … Bowl Of Spaghetti and Spaghetti … And A Few Meatballs you read about the history of sexual abuse I suffered as well as the initial mental illness.  Here you’ll read how that mental illness manifested itself and grew into my adult life.

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At age fifteen two new people became visible to me: Pam and Mr. Carhart.  I know today that Pam represents good and Mr. Carhart evil.  How do I know their positions?  Mr. Carhart appeared first and was instrumental in my first suicide attempt.  Pam appeared shortly after the attempt and stands between me and Mr. Carhart and comforts me.

Shortly after my second suicide attempt at age twenty a group of people became mostly visible.  They number seven and sit (3) and stand (4) in a misty haze.  All I can tell about them is they’re human but there is no level of facial/physical detail beyond that.  I can tell two are children, two are adolescents, and three are adults.  And I think they represent those three phases of growth for me.

By age twenty-one, I was dealing with a severe addiction to pornography, voices and noises inside my head, Pam, Mr. Carhart, and The Seven in The Mist as well as colors and patterns in my field of vision.  There were also three others who would make occasional, short appearances at times of extreme emotional crisis.  I was a mess and no one knew.

I told no one.

I kept it all to myself for many reasons – none healthy as I now know.  I was afraid of what it all might mean, the stigma and what might happen to me.  After all, haven’t we all seen what happens to ‘crazy’ people on TV and in the movies?!  Institutionalized and drugged!  I was also afraid of what it might mean for my mind.  I’m a pretty intelligent person and I’ve always valued my intellect.  It’s what kept me ‘sane’ and helped me achieve many things.   Of course it’s also what lead to my current place in exile.  My mind, my ego, said, “I can handle it all,” and for many years it did –  sort of.

I began to seriously break at age 48.  The repressed memories of the rape began to push from subconscious to conscious.  The images seemed so unreal and fantastical that I was convinced they were created out of my own addiction to porn.  How or when did I, a solid heterosexual, have a penis in my mouth?! And in my anus?!  It was too awful to be true.

I also started to have serious, more serious actually, issues in interpersonal relationships with my wife, family , friends and employees.  My work was suffering and I began planning suicide again.  I was a mess again and I told no one.

I told myself I could handle it all. 

I was wrong.

My hope – if anyone reading this has suffered as I did and/or deals with mental illness, you will heed my advice and get help. 

Do it today.  Do not wait.  Do not remain in that prison. 

Almost there, one more part.  Next I discuss my breakdown and how I ended up here in exile. ~ jdoe

The Healing Continues

If you didn’t read Part 1 last week, start here It’s All About The Healing

Let me be clear.  I am not saying prayer is a waste of time!  I say pray without ceasing!  But do I believe prayer and faith alone will always prevail?  Yes and no.  Let me explain…

First, those statements made to me are egocentric.  By this I mean that they assume that my prayer for healing involves only myself and God.  Second, they’re limiting God!  People’s statements presume God’s plan is that my healing is between Him and me alone.  Third, they implicitly condemn God’s work in others.

How?

Answer these questions:

1) Why did God lead Julie to become a psychologist if not to be part of His plan for healing?

2) Why were so many others (wife, kids, family, friends, lawyer, etc) called to witness my healing?

3) Why were we given medicine and science and both doctor’s offices and cathedrals?

So “Yes” in that prayer and belief bring God’s plans and for me healing, but how arrogant would I be to ask only God to aid me and in so doing ignore His plan!  God brings us what and who we need – in His time – so by praying for healing and believing in all His possibilities I can say that “No”, prayer as presented to me – excluding God’s other efforts, timing, plans, and works in and through other people – won’t work alone.  We must trust and believe in His human works and His unknowable plans as well.

There’s one other bit of ‘no’ I’ve come to accept:  I, we, cannot presume to know what healing means.  Again, it’s an egocentric thing.  I may define healing as, “I’ll never consider suicide as an option for my life’s end.”  God may define it as, “Everyone exposed to john doe’s pain will never consider suicide as an option for life’s end,” while leaving me to my struggles with suicide.  So if I look only at myself I would feel I’ve not healed when through God’s eyes He’s healed many.

Thinking more basically… How would God have done His work on the cross without apostles abandoning, denying, and betraying Him?  What would have happened without Pilate, The Sanhedrin, Barabbas, and the workmen who made the cross and forged the nails?  Did God, in His greatest glory, do it alone?  No.  Why would anyone presume then that God’s plan includes only God and themselves?  Why would my healing be any different?

Perhaps I’m stating the obvious and there are no revelations; but for me.  I believe that without the human works God brought to me I’d be lying in bed with my mental ‘demons’ still running around in my head (actually many, but not all, still are) or I’d be dead.  I do not believe it’s between Him and me alone.

Healing. 

True Healing. 

Complete Healing.

 It’s all about the Healing.

I’m healing but not fully healed.  It’s a slow process.  Yet today I walk the road of healing hand in hand with those people in whom God has done wondrous works as well as hand in hand with God Himself.  I pray and believe in His plan.  I trust in His people.

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Pray. Believe. Trust.

If you need a professional then seek one out.  I believe God put him or her there for you.  Don’t wait forty six years as I did.  Do it now.

~jdoe

It’s All About The Healing

I am mentally ill.  The roots of the mental illness I battle are in the sexual abuse I suffered as a child.  I am left with wounds.  Some are scarred over, some have scabs, and others are raw and open.

Over the years I developed poor, unhealthy coping mechanisms.  I chased the false idols of money, status, material belongings, and worst – pornography.  I attempted to use these false idols to avoid reality and heal the hurts of a childhood gone mad.  My subconscious gave me colors and patterns that cover all I see, voices and noises inside and outside my head and a host of people to see and interact with that simply are not there.  And physically I was left with seizures that have no diagnosis but the sexual abuse (there is info on this if you research the link between seizures and sexual abuse as a child).  But they all failed to provide what I needed, still need…

Healing. 

True Healing. 

Complete Healing. 

It’s all about the Healing.

I’m working on healing.  It is work.  You are kidding yourself if you think otherwise.  It is also a slow process.  Patience is required.  So are diligence and faith.

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My road to healing began the day I became aware there was an official investigation into my pursuit of illegal pornography.  What I couldn’t see that day, or for many days and months afterword, was how much of a blessing that scary day would turn out to be.  I know that sounds crazy since it lead to my incarceration but without that day my healing would never have been.  In fact, I believe I would be dead.

Suicide has been ever present in my life.  Attempt number one at age fifteen.  Attempt number two at age twenty.  Planned attempts at ages thirty, thirty five, forty eight, and fifty one.

Suicide was another coping mechanism for me to deal with all of the ‘stuff’ I’ve already written of: Hurts from my childhood, mental illness, hallucinations, self-worth and self-validation issues, and the false idols of money, status, material belongings and pornography.  I was a mess that fateful, scary day.

Healing requires that, like triage in an emergency room, you uncover the wound and examine it to see what damage has actually occurred.  You need the help of professionals for that.  You don’t perform open heart surgery in your kitchen, right?  So why should you attempt to fix your mental self while sitting alone in your family room?

When I took my first step on this road of healing I still travel, I looked around and saw that my professional for help came in the form of a highly competent psychologist named Julie.  At the time I did not see God or my faith as part of the healing journey.  I didn’t see God that way because my relationship with Him was superficial.  My relationship with God is so much deeper today.  My faith is real and significant.  Yet today I can say that I do not believe that a deeper relationship with God prior to that scary day would have changed the outcome I now live.

Why?

I was a mess and would have been that mess regardless of my faith or thoughts and feelings about God.  I would not have taken steps to heal.  God of course knew this and even though my attitude toward Him was casual in nature, His attitude toward me was Love.  God knew I needed to walk into, and one day out of, an effort to heal.

I can look back now and see how God lead me to Julie, a psychologist specially trained in exactly the type of help I need and then He blessed me with fifteen months of time for my work with her.  (Fifteen months from investigation start to my custody and jail.)  God knew I needed to go through that time and work with Julie and that without it I would go unchanged and very probably have taken my own life.

So often people say, “Pray for healing,” and “God has already put the power within you,” and “You’ve got to believe to have it happen,” as if prayer and faith alone will cure every issue.  When I was initially incarcerated I seriously considered suicide again.  I shared this with a former pastor with whom I shared a cell.  He said, “Pray on it and believe, you doubt too much.”  So I prayed – and nothing changed.  I was then put on suicide watch.

Let me be clear.  I am not saying prayer is a waste of time!  I say pray without ceasing!  But do I believe prayer and faith alone will always prevail?  Yes and no.

More to come next week…  jdoe

Part 2 is found here: The Healing Continues