About a week ago my mum told me that her and my father were planning to go on holiday at the end of the year and they wanted me to stay with my 16 year old brother while they’re gone. I didn’t give too much thought to it until yesterday when I asked my parents the details of their trip. Turns out they’re holidaying around Europe then going to Indonesia for an entire month. It’s been bothering me and I couldn’t quite work out why until now.
The first and last time my parents went away and left my brother and I at home was in April/May 2011. Which ended up being a disaster as I overdosed and subsequently landed myself in hospital. Ever since, they’ve been reluctant to leave us both home alone. Until now, apparently.
It should be a good thing that I’m now “trusted”. Except that it also really scares me that they and possibly everyone else assume that I’m completely better and that I’m not going to become unwell again. Just because I haven’t been in hospital or overdosed in over a year doesn’t mean that I don’t still get thoughts of doing so. It also puts me under immense pressure as everyone seems to expect that I’m well and I don’t want to disappoint anyone. I’m terrified of becoming unwell any time, but even more so if it happens while my parents are overseas and I’m meant to be looking after my brother. Additionally, staying at my parents’ home with my brother still holds bad memories of how it turned out last time.
I went out to lunch today with my family and relatives. My auntie reported to us that my two cousins have been getting acupuncture, one to treat his acne and the other to treat her eczema. She then informed my mother and I that acupuncture can also be used to treat depression. “Oh,” I said, and didn’t comment further. “Are you still taking medication?” my aunt asked. “Yes,” I confirmed. And I don’t feel the need to ditch my medication for a round of acupuncture either. If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it I say. I’ll admit too that I’m a wuss and the idea of having needles stuck in me is very unappealing.
I remember at the beginning I was quite resistant to the idea of taking medication. However, I’ve now accepted that it probably does help somewhat, and it’s now just a part of my daily routine. Two tablets in the morning, one tablet at night.
I believe in Western medicine and there is proof in the clinical trials that have been conducted. I did study pharmacy at one point in my life after all. Although I am Chinese, I guess I’m a bad one, as I remain dubious about the efficacy of alternate therapies such as acupuncture. But hey, if my auntie and her children want to try acupuncture, all power to them. It will be interesting to see whether they notice an improvement. Meanwhile I will continue with my medication regimen.
It’s been over a week now that I’ve moved out, and I’m beginning to settle in and even enjoy my new found freedom and independence. At first there were bumps, as I was pushed out of my comfort zone. I missed my home, where I had spent the majority of my life. There were tears as I wondered whether I could really cope and even contemplated picking up and going back. But now I’m glad I took the initiative to escape a situation I did not want to be in.
Moving to a new area, I went to see a new GP close by. He issued me the scripts I asked for; Pristiq and Seroquel, with enough repeats to last six months. Prior to this I had still been having only a week’s worth of medication dispensed to me at a time. Though it may be a little deceitful of me not to disclose this to the GP, I was tired of having to go to the pharmacy every week. Besides, I haven’t overdosed in 9 months and if I really wanted to, I could anyway. And for the moment, I don’t. Things are going well. I’ve finally moved out. I passed all my units at uni and will be going into my third year of occupational therapy in 2013. I have friends, and I even have a boyfriend now. The guy I’d been dating has become my boyfriend, in fact my first at the age of 21. And I too am his first, at the age of 25. For now, I am rather content.
Sometimes, I’m tired of fighting. I’m trying to tell myself that I can get through the obstacles that life throws at me, but more often than not I’m not so sure. On the exterior I’m trying to appear independent and capable, but on the inside I feel timid, scared and full of anxiety.
I’m moving out in less than a month, on 1st of December. Mostly to escape from my father. Was told last week during a screaming match between him and I that if I’m not going to abide by his rules, then I can leave and go find somewhere else to live. Apparently he’s “always right” and so my mum is not allowed to defend me against him. He threatened my mum that he’ll leave if she defends me against him again. But it’s fine, I’m leaving so it won’t likely happen again.
I’m terrified though. There’s the financial side of it, with the rent, cost of living and other expenses. Having to be an adult when I’m still so unsure about myself. Wondering if I’ll be able to cope and manage on my own and still keep up with my studies. A part of me also grieves for my childhood which was littered with difficult times and never having a proper dad as as I move towards being an ‘adult’.
It might make it easier if I had support but I don’t, and I feel so alone in the world.
One or two bad days I could probably handle. I could use distractions, for example, painting.
And it did, to an extent, work. I’m obviously no artist but it was somewhat calming and therapeutic to express myself on canvas. In this case, it represented the tears I had cried over two days.
When it’s four bad days in a row though, forget it. Conflict with my father on top of a long uni day and stress over the workload and study resulted in an end to my two month streak of being self harm free. Two months would be a lot more impressive if I managed to resist the temptation despite having a rough ride. As it is, those two months went pretty well for me, and it was rare I felt the need to self harm. Unfortunately it only took four days of things not going so well for me to return to using old ways to cope.
Whether it’s a placebo effect or whether it’s the endorphins being released, I feel so much better now.The sharp sting of the blade and the blood dripping down my leg both calmed me and helped release the tension I was feeling, distracting me from my emotions and tears. And now that I’m reminded of how damn good this feels, gosh I just want to do it again.
A segment appeared on TV tonight about children being home schooled due to bullying. It prompted some debate between my father and I. I recounted a story I heard about someone now home schooling her child due to bullying, which continued to occur despite moving schools multiple times. My father then suggested it was the fault of the child, or else why would they continue to get bullied at all these different schools? I disagreed with this. “Sometimes a child just doesn’t fit in, or they’re quieter, or others just sense that a person is different so they bully them,” I said. He continued to push the point that the child should try to fit in and it may be the child’s fault for being bullied, particularly if the child is, say, rude or standoffish. Of course, I disagreed with him. There is no excuse for bullying and abusing someone and it is not the fault of the person being bullied.
In Year 7 I experienced bullying. Three students who used to be ‘friends’ turned on me. They would bitch about me and make it obvious, they would purposefully ignore me, they’d make remarks to each other about not wanting to sit next to or be near me, one would cough the word ‘Loser’ while she walked past me, they’d make digs and laugh about me to each other; all the sort of subtle yet viscous type of bullying that girls are more likely to engage in. Each day I’d dread coming to school and then go home to cry. I’d pray that they’d leave me alone and if a day went past with no incidents occurring, that would be classed as a ‘good’ day. I’d count down the weeks and days until graduation, with the knowledge that I’d never have to see them again the only thing keeping me going.
My parents’ response to this was to suggest that maybe I did something, maybe it was my attitude and I didn’t act a nice person towards them. My mother gave me an example of when this ex-friend and I were in the car, how a response I gave was rude and short with her. As a then 12 year old, it hurt not to receive sympathy and understanding, instead getting the suggestion that I may be to blame.
I’m glad I have the insight and knowledge now to dispute my father’s views about bullying. Because for goodness sake, it’s awful enough to be on the receiving end of bullying, let alone be blamed for it. I just regret that no one was around to tell 12 year old me that.
It feels kinda odd when I’m not the one in the family who’s ended up in the psych ward yet again. Instead, this time it’s my uncle and he’s been in hospital for about one and a half weeks now. He’s in A St in fact, where I was attending outpatient psychologist appointments before I decided no more. He’d managed to stay out for a long time- in fact his last psych ward hospitalisation was about fifteen years ago. I’m not quite sure what’s worse, ending up in hospital every few months for the past couple of years, or being ill for so long that fifteen years later you end up hospitalised again.
I’ve been on Seroquel since November last year, albeit a low dose of 50mg Seroquel XR a day. It’s rather scary though that it’s the very reason for my uncle ending up in hospital. He experiences psychosis and was on Zyprexa before his GP recently changed him to Seroquel. 300mg and he was experiencing adverse effects. Tremors and shaking and urinary retention. Upon contacting his GP, he was told to go to the ED and from there, was transferred to psych. Even now, over a week after stopping the Seroquel, he’s still experiencing tremors and has an indwelling catheter because of the urinary retention.
I’m lucky that I’ve never experienced any severe side effects from the medications I’ve been on, which includes Lexapro, Zoloft, Pristiq, Seroquel, temazepam and lorazepam. But hearing about my uncle, it’s definitely something to be cautious of. I hope he’s better soon.
“If you don’t have someone who believes in you, you’re not going to be on this earth very long. So tell me you all have someone in your life so that you’re in for the long haul?”
Words spoken today by the tutor who took our class for the Aboriginal Health and Culture unit. He was referring to the video we were watching where an Aboriginal man told of his experiences being part of the stolen generation. This Aboriginal man was sent to a missionary and told his parents didn’t want him, contrary to the truth, and later on battled with binge drinking and illicit drugs, overdosing twice. The tutor then linked this to people needing to be loved and cared for. He told us that alcohol and drug use are forms of self harm and self medication, and that suicide is the leading cause of death amongst the under 35.
Related to this is what came up in my most recent psychologist appointment. We spoke of the one year mark since my first ED admission following an overdose, and the difficult feelings that came up with it. “So what keeps you here now?” she asked me. I answered that knew I had commitments. My Uni course. Fieldwork at the hospital. A workshop for a youth organisation I volunteer for. She enquired as to whether there is anyone in my life that kept me anchored here. “Umm…not really…” I replied. I don’t know whether it’s that I’m selfish, or whether I just lack the vision to see this, but I don’t feel a true connection to..well…anybody. So I don’t think of the impact on others if I want to die because I don’t think it will impact people all that much. I know my mother, my grandparents and my aunt love me. But while there’s love, there’s no real connection. I have friends, but no real close friends I catch up with regularly and can talk to about everything. Boyfriends? Non-existent. I’m twenty in a little over a month and I’ve never even been on a date, let alone had a boyfriend.
This same issue keeps cropping up, the social isolation, that sense that I’m alone in the world and no one understands me. I don’t know how this is ever going to change. And if it doesn’t change, well… I’m not that strong and others before me haven’t survived. The tutor I had today isn’t pulling this stuff out of thin air, he has a Masters in Counselling and works in the field.
Yesterday I met with my psychiatrist, Dr T. She told me she had sent off another referral to my psychologist, R, as we’ve reached twelve for the year. “So I can have another six sessions for the year…” I enquired. Dr T confirmed yes, after that Medicare doesn’t provide a rebate. “And then next year we only get ten sessions…” I stated. She again replied in the affirmative. I told her that there doesn’t seem much point in continuing therapy if I’m only going to get ten sessions out of it. She started describing to me the benefits of attending long term therapy as opposed to short term therapy. “My recommendation is that you continue to see R [after you've used up your Medicare rebated sessions] and that your parents pay for it.” Right. Easy for her to say. I told her I’d feel too guilty to do so and I can’t justify spending $165 per session when I’m only paying $10 now. She tried to reason that I haven’t even asked my parents so I can’t know how they’d react if I brought it up. Yeah…but no. “Who pays for your private health insurance?” she then asked me. “I do,” I replied pointedly.
She’s not the one who grew up with my father, being made to feel guilty and undeserving. Memories have stuck with me all this time. Being driven home by my father after a psychiatrist appointment two years ago and being told in an accusatory tone, “We’re already spending all this money on your psychologist and psychiatrist appointments.” Being scolded by him when my grandparents offered me pocket money and being instructed that I must decline instead. Being told that I was “being selfish” and to “think of mum, working hard to earn this money,” when I was attending dancing lessons for $10 a week which resulted in me quitting because I felt too guilty. Him getting angry at me as a little girl after a shopping trip with my grandparents, because I finally accepted their offer of buying me a $20 pair of pyjamas, after shaking my head “no” to many other offers. Is it any wonder I refuse to even contemplate asking my parents to pay $165 per hour session with R, especially when I don’t even see any real benefits of going?
Oh how clueless the rich can be. It’s no wonder Dr T doesn’t get why I’m so hesitant, why I’d feel too guilty to bring this up with my parents. She earns $305 per hour! And not only does she earn that much, but her husband’s a psychiatrist too. So of course her kid/s would have none of those financial problems I face. Gosh, imagine having both parents as shrinks though… *shudders*.