This is a piece about all the things I used to do and what is now different in my life...
|When I was sick - before I started to get "better" - I practiced judo. I took photographs of bugs and flowers and people and beautiful things. I rode my bike all over the city. I noticed everything around me and appreciated nice smells and fragrances. I spent time doing what it took to apply to medical school, organizing my materials, ordering transcripts, getting letters of recommendation, and meeting deadlines. I went hiking and biking up on the trails on top of the rims. I took my watercolor bag with me and painted outside in the sunshine and the breeze. I talked on my HAM radio and kept a log of contacts. I earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. I earned scholarships and went to interviews for them regularly. I had friends, both faculty and students, that loved to see me. I went to church and read my Bible. I ended up in the psych ward a lot for suicidal ideation. I took many handfuls of pills to control my PTSD and my Depression from the War. I am a combat Veteran.
Now my BMI is 40 and I am waiting to see if the VA will authorize me to go to the hospital's weight clinic. I no longer hike or bike or paint or sketch. I do play the guitar, a new hobby within the last year that calms me when I am stressed. I am going to graduate school for a Master of Science in Psychology. I am behind in all of my reading, my labs, my projects... I have exams coming up fast that I do not know how to prepare for. I no longer practice judo. I no longer go to church or read my Bible. I have been reading a tad here and there of the Book of Mormon. I have not been to the psych ward for a while. That is a good sign, I guess. I am having ECT's once a month, which seem to be helping my suicidal tendencies and my Depression, as well as the handfuls of drugs I take to control my PTSD and Depression. I now have to take medication for a seizure disorder that none of the doctors (except the neurologist) think I have. It is supposed to improve mood as well, but all it does is make me lethargic and slow - comatose - and lifeless. Lately, I have been hearing voices again, but my doctor has prescribed an increased dose of antipsychotic that I can take as soon as I receive it from the VA. I am having an all-out crisis that I hope my doctor calls me about later today. If he does not, I will understand. He works hard and is a very busy man. But he cares. I have the best psychiatrist I could ever have. I am a combat Veteran.
So it sounds like things have gotten worse and not better. Well, I still have the nightmares, the flashbacks, the panic attacks, the hypervigilance, the excessive startle response, the avoidance, the suicidal ideation...I still have the PTSD and the Depression, but I also still have the best doctor I could ever have. All in all? I am getting better. I smile more, I laugh more, I do not feel as suicidal, because I am having the ECT's and my doctor's visits and my case manager visits. If I ever need help, it is usually available, even if I have to go to the hospital psych ward. That is okay. I am not a prideful person. I cannot be. If you are to accept help, you must be humble, and I have learned humility. I have also learned strength in the face of disaster and crisis. I have learned to care for others and how to calm and help others who are having mental health crises or just life issues in general. I have different friends, now, but still both faculty and students, as well as people in the community, at the hospital, and at the VA. The VA has done a lot for me. Without them, I would be a homeless substance abuser. Instead, I have regular and reliable mental health care and primary health care that can refer me out to specialists if need be. Even though I am fully disabled by PTSD and Depression, I am still striving to become a psychiatrist - a medical doctor. I want to help people like me. People with mental illness. I am a combat Veteran.