Homesickness at 106

I’ve been so homesick lately.  It’s been almost four months since I moved into this new home, and I’m finally getting homesick.

Over the last few days, I’ve been looking around this home, and I realized that nothing about it feels like mine.  Nothing about it feels like the comfort of home.  I don’t see any of the useless trinkets that adorned my last home.  Instead, I see items that belonged to another person in another time.  The sugar bowls above my cabinets.  The ceramic that clutters my counter by the stove.  Inherited, ugly dishwear that we eat off of.  Foreign pots and pans that I prepare food on.

At first, it was like an exciting vacation home.  It was an escape from my ramshackle house that had strings like Pinocchio.  I was a puppet in my own home, and eventually, I was forcibly removed from that home with the final passive-aggressive jabs in a long, relentless series of them.  I had broken free of my failure to launch syndrome and was on the road to becoming a self-sufficient adult.

Now, I feel more helpless than ever before.  In my hometown, I could free myself of the bondage of my house whenever I felt like it.  There was a wealth of places I could go and see.  Here, I am trapped at the end of a beautiful, scenic private driveway in an idyllic little town.  To get off of this mountainous terrain, it’s a mile’s walk straight down a series of steep hills.  And even if I were to make it into town, there is nothing to do and nowhere to go.

I don’t miss the cramped nature of 511, with junk brimming from every tiny storage area there was.  But, now, I feel that there is no place of solace for me.  My bedroom was my bedroom.  All of my stuff was comforting, and my space was adorned with knicknacks of years past.  It was a representation of me.  I feel like this place is completely devoid of that.  This place feels devoid of me, and I’m beginning to feel lost.  I’m beginning to feel like I’m losing myself, instead of finding a place where I could discover myself once again.

There’s too many negative memories attached to that house.  So many, that they actually outweigh the positive ones.  In that house, I lived with Avi, without heat, in the most brutal winter I can recall.  I lived out of boxes, surrounded by piles of garbage and junk.  I was estranged from that house in warmer months as a means of escape.  I hit the bottom of the barrel with a miserable labor job, a serious drinking problem, and a completely hopeless future.

It was in that house that I was coerced into having immoral sex with Simon in a sick, twisted threesome.  I hardly remember it.  Most of what I can recall from the situation has a haze over it.

There were good things.  It was the place where Xan was partially unconscious in my lap on New Years’ Eve, and I fed him a special New Years’ Eve pretzel I made in the bakery at work.  It was the place where I first realized that I loved him.  That was the house where Xan and I first lived together as a couple.  It was the first place we made love.

That was the place where we started our life together.  It was the place we went back to after our wedding.  It was the house that our child was conceived in.  We brought our little bundle of joy home there, and slept on the living room floor next to his bassinet for the first month.  There, our son took his first steps, said his first words, and grew from a baby to a child.

Again, there was the bad and even the ugly.  Too much violence happened there, both physical, verbal, and self-inflicted.  It was a breeding ground for negativity.  Xan and I used to have these knock-down, no-hold-barred fights there.  I recall too many moments where I stormed up the stairs to escape him.  The whole last four months of our residence in that home was a complete disaster in our marriage.

In essence, I escaped that place.  But, is the devil you don’t know worse than the devil you do?

Positives.  Think of the positives.

This house has the potential to become my lifetime home.  Maybe I am just homesick because I spent six years in the last house, and only four months here.

This house is located in a safe area for my son, and provides a calm, free environment for him.  In addition, it has a better school district and provides better learning opportunities and support for him.

This house has additional space.  I don’t feel as cramped and caged, even if I do feel lonely and secluded.

Even though this house contains a lot of foreign items, it won’t forever.  I will acquire more items to replace the old ones that feel more like me.  It will become more familiar as time passes.

This house is not a money pit.  It is in good condition and was well built.  I do not spend a large amount of money on utilities, and there is hardly a threat that I will ever be without.

I will never be threatened to be evicted from this home.  There are no strings attached and the owner is very hands-off.  I will never find myself threatened or harassed over this house.

Xan and Beast are happy here.

It is easy to clean and requires little maintenance.  It might be a little more overwhelming, since it’s a bit bigger than the other house.  But, I don’t have to look at torn out walls and feel a sense of hopelessness and fear toward the condition.

I can be happy here.  I have been happy here.  Summers are far more temperate and beautiful here.  Autumn is gorgeous with all of the foliage.  Winter might even be nice with fresh white snow covering the yard and the woods.

It’s quiet.  I can think.

And one day, I’ll be able to get around on my own.  Even if there is really nowhere to go.  I’ll be less lost and I’ll understand the area a little better.

I’ll find my place here.  I know I will.  It’s just going to take some time.

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Exercises to Build Self Esteem: #1. Pleasure and Happiness

Writing your Pleasure List

1. Take a clean sheet of paper and head somewhere you feel safe and relaxed.

2. Divide the paper into four sections:

– Section 01: People and Pets (who bring me pleasure when I think of them)
– Section 02: Places (that bring me pleasure when I think of them)
– Section 03: Things (that bring me pleasure when I think of them)
– Section 04: Things I like to do (that bring me pleasure)

3. Then write as many examples as you can under each section.
4. Remember to allow yourself to feel happy!

Section 01: People and Pets

  • Xan, my husband.
  • Beast, my son
  • Dill, my friend
  • Zen, my cat that passed on last year
  • Rees, my friend.
  • Ruby, my friend
  • Carla, my friend
  • Monday, my friend
  • My MIL
  • My FIL

Section 02: Places

  • Myrtle Beach, South Carolina:   It is absolutely, hands down, my favorite vacation spot.  The beaches are huge and sandy.  The local, southern food is amazing, and the local people are very friendly.  I have some of my most fond memories there.  When I was sixteen, it was my first taste of freedom.  It was the only town I was ever allowed to wander around in unsupervised.  I was free to go wherever I wanted within a certain 15 block radius in either direction.  For Myrtle Beach, that’s a lot of territory.  I spent my honeymoon there with Xan.  It was the first time I had ever gone on vacation as an adult.  We just had the most lovely time, I recall.  Good food, peaceful setting, and a lovely beach.  I got to wake up every single morning to go out on the patio and watch the sunrise.  It was magical.
  • Virginia Beach, Virginia:  I recall Virginia Beach having one of the most impressive boardwalks I had ever been on.  Anything you could ever want was on that board walk.  I was thirteen years old, and I’d sneak out to my very own balcony in the middle of the night just to watch the moon rise on the ocean.  It was one of the most beautiful sights I had ever seen.  It was fairly close by car, so I wasn’t stuck in the car forever with my parents.  And, since I had my own room in our suite, I had a huge amount of privacy.  It was the best vacation I can remember from my childhood.
  • The Fountains in Pittsburgh:   There’s something about those fountains.  Pittsburgh has plenty of them, because we are so close to the river.  There was one in particular that I loved, and I took a photo of it right before my surgical consultation the August before last.  Something about it was calming, and settled me down to think about the beautiful things in life.  I even wrote a post called, “All the Pretty Things”.
  • The Trestle:   By my old house, in the same neighborhood I grew up in, there was this old, abandoned railroad trestle.  My best friend showed it to me when we were in our early teens.  We used to hang out there to drink and smoke pot.  Then, we’d have these deep conversations about our thoughts and feelings.  Those were very intimate moments.When Beck, my ex, and I became secret lovers behind her back, we used to frequent the trestle.  It was the place that I had my first kiss with a boy.  And he and I would sit there for hours, holding each other, talking about our dreams, and making plans for our future together.  And after Beck and I broke up, I didn’t go back again.

    Until there was Xan, three years later.  At the time, we were living with my ex, Avi.  I felt a bond with Xan that I couldn’t quite explain.  So, I took him there, so that we could be alone.  We hung out and we drank.  It was a beautiful alone place, even if it was a rusted trestle.  You could see the creek below, and it was surrounded by trees, a rarity in that neighborhood.

    It was the place where Xan and I spent our first night together as a couple.  We sat up all night and talked.  I don’t recall what about.  The past.  The present.  Maybe even the future.  I know we went through the story of our developing relationship, and how we got to this point.  And I remember we held each other in the rain until the morning light.

Section 03: Things:

  • My computer
  • My Samsung Captivate Glide
  • Pandora
  • My stuffed animal from when I was a kid
  • Coffee
  • Pizza
  • New clothes
  • Cigarettes
  • Overhead Lighting
  • WordPress
  • Facebook
  • Bejeweled Blitz
  • Bed
  • My blue coffee cup
  • My brown skirt
  • The Internet
  • Wikipedia
  • WebMD
  • Medscape
  • Google
  • Craigslist
  • My blue blanket
  • My journals
  • Inkjoy pens
  • G2 Gel Pens
  • All no bleed Sharpies
  • Office supplies
  • Caffeine
  • My medication
  • My contacts

Section 04: Things I like to do:

  • Go for long car rides
  • Eat at this little mom and pop diner a few towns over
  • Shop
  • Get dressed up (sometimes)
  • Take hot showers
  • Visit my in-laws
  • Craft
  • Take on a new project
  • Crochet
  • Write
  • Read
  • Write on WordPress
  • Read on WordPress
  • Do selfless acts
  • Practice Tang Soo Do
  • Play computer games
  • Watch my favorite TV shows
  • Create things
  • Play with my son
  • Spend time with my husband

All that I am, all that I ever was...

“Pleasure is the only thing one should live for, nothing ages like happiness.”
~ Oscar Wilde ~

Accentuate the positives

The first exercise toward building better self-esteem is to focus on the positives. Now, I’m not a convert into the positive thinking movement, in fact I find books that proclaim all we need to do is think positively and everything we want will magically appear out of thin air complete crap. I don’t believe someone can ‘pretend away depression’ nor do I believe thinking positively will cure you of cancer or the myriad of other illnesses that people suffer from.

However, thinking positive thoughts about ourselves can bring about an attitude change toward better self-perception.

Once upon a time I was in a counselling session. I had seen this counsellor for several sessions and in each one he noted how stressed and tense I was; how I sat in a…

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Leep-Into-Cin II – Part I

Finding out about HPV and cervical cancer

As the Pendulum Swings

Warning: The following content can be considered graphical in nature.  It may contain material that may not be appropriate for certain audiences.  Children under the age of 18, those of the male gender, and others faint of heart may want to take extra care while viewing this.  Use your own discretion.

One Bad Apple . . .
Twelve years ago, almost to the day, the relationship with my first love started.  We had gone circles for over six months.  He eyed me, and I fancied him.  We spoke almost daily and we had become great friends.  There were many late night conversations, spilling out our hopes, dreams, fears…  But, he was forbidden fruit, the tastiest of them all.  He was my best friend’s boyfriend.  After over a month of clandestine meetings, secret phone conversations, secrets, and lies, I came clean.  And within six months after that, we were no longer…

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The C Word : 30 Days of Truth

Warning: The following content can be considered graphical in nature.  It may contain material that may not be appropriate for certain audiences.  Children under the age of 13, those of the male gender, and others faint of heart may want to take extra care while viewing this.  Use your own discretion.

Day 16 : Someone or something you definitely could live without.

Once upon a time, there was a little girl.  She fancied herself wise and experienced in the world at the ripe young age of fifteen.  Since she was the age where she considered herself an adult, because she had an adult body, she started to do adult things.  Being in a monogamous, committed relationship, she decided herself old enough, and educated enough by the health classes in the public school system, to start having sex.

That naïve little girl grew up and discovered that her monogamous relationship existed only with one party.  Seeing as how she was much older now, at the ripe older age of 18, she considered herself naïve in the past, but much wiser now.  She knew of sexually transmitted diseases and let out a sigh of relief at the knowledge that she had used condoms at every frequent instance of sexual intercourse.

That girl, she is me.

Throughout the years, I had gained a new definition of relationships and explored my sexuality.  I wasn’t much for one night stands, I preferred a committed relationship, but as it turns out, I was not particularly good at staying monogamous.  Sometimes, I would have a momentary indiscretion and have repeat ex-sex.  Other times, I just fooled around with others for a self-esteem boost.  None without protection.

Protection is a term that should be used loosely with condoms.  When used correctly, condoms can prevent pregnancy in 99% of cases.

HPV doesn’t care about condoms.

I could live without HPV and the cancer it caused me.

For those of you that find yourself at a loss for the topic of HPV, I’ll give you a rundown.  Human Papilloma Virus is a sexually transmitted disease that transmits itself from contact to contact with partners.  It is a virus and can stay dormant in a person’s system for years, kind of like herpes.  Except, with HPV, there are often no immediate outward symptoms.  There is no way to tell if a person has contracted the virus with either partner.  It is a silent illness with a potential for being deadly, if left untreated.

HPV is actually so common that upwards of 50% of the population will contract the disease within their lifetime.  Being a virus, in many cases, especially with younger patients, the illness will resolve itself without any intervention.

Otherwise, it is an unimaginable hell.

In 2007, I underwent a colposcopy with a biopsy to determine the cause of my abnormal pap smear.  A colposcopy is a diagnostic procedure where the doctor sprays a solution on the cervix to make it clear.  Abnormal cells can be detected when they don’t turn clear.  If they are discovered, the area is biopsied to determine the progression of abnormality, essentially meaning cancerous in nature.

A pap smear is uncomfortable enough.  They take an instrument and scrape a layer of skin off of the cervix for testing.  It is one of the most painful gynecological procedures I had gone through at that point in time.

I was diagnosed with cervical dysplasia termed CIN-I, the least threatening development.  I was in my early 20’s, and the doctors had decided that I would get regular screenings to monitor it.  I was assured that it would resolve on its own, being that I was a younger woman with no history of chronic illness.

A year later, I was 34 weeks pregnant with my son.  The doctor had determined it was necessary to check on the dysplasia.  The growth had become bad enough that they risked preterm labor to get a sample.  CIN-II.  It was not resolving on its own.  I had defied statistics.

Six months later, the doctor performed another colposcopy with a biopsy.  CIN-III.  It had progressed again, one step before invasive cancer.  That was when I had my first surgery.

The surgery is actually a pretty outdated, but not quite as invasive, procedure with a very low success rate.  It was cryosurgery, where they take a cold probe and freeze the bad cells off.

For this surgery, they lied.  The doctors told me that it would be uncomfortable and not too unlike a colposcopy.  Seeing as how I endured one during late term pregnancy, I felt confident.  Instead, I ended up being left in a silent room with my legs in the air.  “Wait five minutes and then get up.  And you’ll be all done.’

I was alone in that room.  I attempted to sit and found that I couldn’t.  It was extraordinarily painful, and I rolled to one side on the table, nearly falling off.  I pulled myself up, and limped out of the office holding my stomach.

Everything from the waist down was in as much pain as it was postpartum.  I limped out to the parking lot, and had to stand to wait for my father.  I went home with no medicine, unmedicated bipolar disorder, a seven month old infant, and a gushing crotch.  They fail to mention that the cryosurgery makes you gush fluid for another month after the procedure.  And there is really no way of telling the success of the procedure until the next six month pap screening.

I had one good pap smear.  The next two showed abnormal cells.  I was back in the office for another colposcopy with a biopsy.  It revealed that I had developed CIN-II again and I required another more invasive surgery this time.

That surgery is called a LEEP procedure.  For this surgery, the doctors put the patient into a twilight state and take an electrified loop to the cervix.  In this instance, the doctors are able to tell post-op if they were successful.  My margins came back clear.  That was November 2011.  My first follow up in May 2011 came back clear.  It was the first time in four years that I had been cancer free.

In the latter progressions of this cancer, symptoms start to become evident.  Doctors say they are not, but in retrospect, they are.  First, I was getting sick constantly.  Every virus that came past, I contracted.  I had the flu twice a year every year since my diagnosis.  I had numerous cases of bronchitis and constant ear infections.

In addition, there were changes in my lower regions I didn’t immediately notice.  I spotted between periods.  I almost always bled after sex or any insertion of pretty much anything.  Bumping the cervix eventually became painful, and sex was not quite as enjoyable.

I was always tired.  I had always felt like I was worn down.

I find that I am worried today.  I panic over every instance of spotting.  I started getting colds again.  And I won’t be able to know if the cancer has returned until November, after my regularly scheduled screening.

What if I have to go through yet another biopsy?  Another surgery?  Each surgery reduced the chances of being able to carry a child to term.  I am not finished having children.  What if this never goes away?  What if I have to have organs removed?

This cancer has been the Sword of Damocles over my head, a constant threat, for five years now.  I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.

For more on my personal battle with HPV and cancer:

LEEP into Cin – Part 1 – The Story of how contracting HPV is possible.

LEEP into Cin Part 2 – The Story of the progression of the HPV

Leep into Cin Part 3 – The Story leading up to the most recent colposcopy and surgery

Fear and Loathing in Pittsburgh – Fear of the surgery consultation

Taking the Bullet – All of the what if’s about the surgery

Me and Magee – The LEEP procedure

Little Shades of Grey – Domestic Sexual Assault

Trigger Warning:  This post may contain triggers that would be hazardous for readers who have a history with sexual assault and crimes of that nature.  It is strongly advised that children under the age of 13 and those that may suffer adverse affects from this post take care and use caution while reading,.  Reader discretion is advised.

In the previous post, Little Shades of Grey – Sexual Assault by a Lover, there was a representation of statistics and a personal account concerning sexual assault and rape.  Unfortunately, that incident was not a sole occurrence.  In fact, it was just the first.

Some women are still stuck in the old mentality that there are just some things you have to do to please and keep your man.  I grew up with the idea that sometimes, I would have to perform sexual acts I did not want to participate in, or I’d have to engage in intercourse when the mood and / or time was not right for me.  It was the nature of being a woman.

Dozens of grey rapes, my mind came to put a term to it, so I wouldn’t actually have to relive it. It was the attempt to free myself from the haunting memories. But, it wasn’t enough. Dozens of times I said no. Many times he reminded me that if he wasn’t “gettin’ it from you, then I’ll get it somewhere else”. Bullied into it, by a man who preyed on my deepest vulnerabilities.

How many times had I thought we had a fantastic night only to wake up to a surly, dismissive, apathetic day?

I started to realize that there were no fantastic nights. There was cheap booze, little white lies, and completely carnal fucking.

The first instance with Avi was not even a full year after the incident with Beck.  It didn’t register, because it was just so subtle.  He lovingly and eagerly asked.  I was too ashamed to tell him the truth about what happened.  I was anxious at the idea of disappointing him, and I went along with it.  It was just that one time, right?  I could satisfy him and then say no.

Then, there is the mentality that no doesn’t really mean no.  For many women, myself included, there is a disconnect between mind and body.  While my mind may be shouting, “NO!”, my body may not be complying.  It’s confusing for a woman, and encouraging for a man.  Men, but societal rules, are accustomed to the chase.  Often times, men get the wrong signals.  And for a predator, that is a perfect excuse for inexcusable, despicable behavior.

To some men, no doesn’t mean no.  No means, coerce me.  No means, harass me.  And that’s exactly what I experienced.  There was no changing my mind, or else I was a tease of a girlfriend who deprived my boyfriend of sexual gratification for my own kicks.  There was no saying no, or my will would be broken down in one way or another.  Finally, not complying with his wishes was grounds for threats and dismissal.

“If you don’t do it by choice, then I’ll just have to take it by force.  But you’d like that, wouldn’t you?”  I shiver and tremble at that phrase.  In my mind, there was nothing worse than losing control of my situation.  What I didn’t realize was that sex and sexual acts were no longer my own choice.  I was, for all intensive purposes, a victim of continual sexual assault and grey rape.

Sex is often a mechanism for control.  And seeing as how I was also both a victim and abuser in other ways, it was the perfect arena for him to gain back control.  Though I would disagree, and I would put up a fight, he would always eventually win.  Nothing scared me more than another full on assault.  Maybe I thought I had the control by consenting.  It’s tricky to know.  I described a bit of it in Decent into Hell.

Just say yes, you little masochist.  

Addictions leave you little choice.

Help me tighten these chains.  Is that my voice?  My mind screamed to be released, for me to take the free ticket to ride and go.  But my heart without it’s limbs could not be freed from it’s vice.

The pleasant memories melted into the form of nightmares.  There was a double edged sword, turning the pleasurable jabs into horrific stabs.  My monologue’s narrator was raspy and exhausted.  Playful smiles turned to sinister grins just as loving chuckles morphed into maniacal laughter.  The blaze pushed forward, engulfing everything in sight.  It seared my flesh, leaving nothing but brittle bone.

In a domestic relationship, it becomes harder to define rape. It becomes even harder to convince others that the sexual contact was not consensual. Worse, is the probability that one will have to face their assailant in the wreckage of the aftermath of reporting.  And that’s possibly why so many sexual assaults and rapes go unreported in those situations.

There are deviant sexual acts I was forced to participate in that I am still ashamed of.  I recall my first threesome.  I consented to it under the pretense of defensive sex.

For those of you that are unfamiliar with defensive sex, it is a sexual response to an emotional manipulation playing on the insecurities of sexual performance and satisfaction.  It is an attempt to avoid abandonment and ease fears for some.  I recognize the manipulation in my own mind now.  And I realize that I had engaged in this behavior and played into his own hand.

The focus of the threesome shifted to a twosome, only involving me as a third party observer.  And I recall watching, thinking I had been tricked into watching my ex sexually gratify himself as a show of force.  As if he was proving to me that other women wanted him, and I was apt to lose him at any time.  I was ashamed at the manipulation.  Later, when my friend and I lost touch over it, I realized it was also an isolation mechanism, enabling all forms of abuse by removing me from third outsiders.

I could have never seen it coming.  Like other forms of abuse, it creeps up and becomes the new “norm”.  Also, it has devastating effects on emotional, sexual, and romantic dynamics in future relationships, again, like other forms of abuse.  This is just as real and horrifying as any other form of abuse, though it is far less recognized.  However, it should be recognized for what it is, and women should be educated and informed about the possibility of this type of hidden abuse.

With or Without You : 30 Days of Truth

Day 15 : Something or someone you couldn’t live without, because you’ve tried living without it.

Most people would prefer to choose a certain special someone or an object to contain all of their affections.  Though my relationship with this is troubled, I have found it to be impossible to live without it.  Even if it’s so hard to live with it.

Medication.

I have made the attempt several times in my life to live without psychiatric medication.  My first was a psychiatric evaluation when I was thirteen, and I refused treatment.  What thirteen year old has the intense desire for repeated therapy visits and pesky medicine?  As a direct result, my symptoms progressed, and I wound up my own cutting board.  When it became concerning, no one was willing to take me back for actual treatment.  Instead, I unnecessarily suffered until I humiliatingly revealed myself and my wounds to an outsider.

The next time was in my late teens.  After being medicated for nearly five years with no result, I was ready to give up on $60 co-pays for a medication that just gave me heroin-like withdrawal symptoms when I forgot to take it.  (That was also the first time I became strongly inclined to start carrying medication on me in clever, cute containers).  I spent a gratuitous amount of time on weekends in a different county, an hour away from my home.  The bus services were shoddy at best, and if I forgot to take my medicine on Friday, then by Sunday morning, I was violently shaking and vomiting in front of my relatively new boyfriend.

This new boyfriend, Avi, convinced me that there was absolutely nothing wrong with me.  The medication was doing more damage to me than good.  It was a waste of time and money.  Psychiatry was a joke and a con for cash.  It would be in my best interest to get off of the medication.

The funniest thing about that was the fact that I became irreconcilably depressed when I weaned myself from the Lexapro, an SSRI.  I required way more than my typical six hours of sleep.  I could no longer party until dawn.  And mostly, my only desire was to scream and cry my eyes out.  After you’ve been hypomanic for so many years, having a crash like that was epic.  Coincidentally, it coincided with the very first cliff fall in our torturous relationship.

And resulting in that choice, I developed functional alcoholism prior to the legal drinking age in the United States.  It took several abusers, victimization, abject poverty, and becoming an abuser to take me down into the depths of a bottle.

I found that I had even given up on self-medication.  When Xan and I got together, it became obvious that he suspected I suffered from addiction.  Though our relationship was certainly not new, our courtship was brand new.  In order to not put him off, and make a show of my own self-control, I slowly ditched the bottle.  I was so addicted that I found I had to be intoxicated to make love to him.  At least a little.

A few years later, I started treatment.  I had managed to remain sober, however, I had completely lost control of myself.  Several months into treatment, I ran into every medicated person’s greatest fear.  My medical coverage was eliminated.  Every pharmacy reported the same thing; Lamictal costs a fortune, and if I can’t afford COBRA, then I sure as hell cannot pay for it from pocket.  I found myself soliciting every pharmacy within a 10 mile radius for assistance.  Finally, one came through for me.  But, not before I suffered cruel withdrawal symptoms.

A similar withdrawal happened over a holiday.  I was unable to see my Pdoc before Christmas, and he had taken vacation through the New Year.  The office had a policy not to call in medications, so I had to make an appointment to go in.  Catch 22.  For four days, I laid there writhing in bed.  Xan took charge, and I had a refill that same day.

The very last time was one of my own poor choices.  That is exactly what mania does – it gets your hooks into you and tells you dirty little lies.  I had decided to attempt to wean myself from medication slowly so that I could prepare to attempt pregnancy.  I did so alone.  Instead of consulting a doctor, I went ahead.  And instead of getting off of medications, I had psychotic breaks the likes of which I have never been remotely acquainted with.  The result was more medication and a lesser likelihood of having a second child.

I have been without by force, by accident, by coercion, and of my own volition.  Like it or not, I cannot live without medication.