Wednesday

I’m laying here, feeling warm,

Wondering what my family and friends

Are up to. What do you want for

Christmas this year? It’s cold in the

House, but Ronnie just turned on the

Heat and I’m under a blanket. Tandy

Was laying on my stomach for a few

Minutes, but then she ran off. Now she’s

Sniffing around for anything she can

Scavenge off the floor. Stella is barking

And whining to come in. She acts like

Someone’s torturing her. Jackie just let

Her in.

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Transitions

It’s been almost three years since I was hospitalized for a major med change. Everything went really well while I was in the hospital, although I got into a friendship with another patient that wasn’t good for me. I would end up taking medical leave for an extended amount of time and then attempt to return to work. That didn’t work out, though. I ended up back in the hospital, and, when I got out I decided to leave my job on long term disability. I hired a lawyer to help me get approved for SSDI, and after a couple denials it went to hearing and I won my case. Since then I started taking classes at Lively Technical Center. I finished the program for legal administrative specialist but decided by the last class that I wasn’t completely sure that was what I wanted to do. So, this Fall I reenrolled at Lively in hopes of getting certified in Microsoft Office. I eventually realized I was only going to be able to get certified in Microsoft Word, as Excel was too difficult and I was feeling ready to finish with school and move on to a part time job. I plan to finish the administrative office specialist program in the Spring, and start looking for a job.

Looey Is Missing

Looey is missing. I don’t remember

When I last saw him. I know he was

Laying on the new pillow that Jackie’s

Mom made for him in the afternoon.

Sometime he went outside, and that

Was more than 24 hours ago. I hope

Nothing bad happened to him. Jackie

Said someone told her that there are

Dogs in our neighborhood that kill

Cats. I went around two blocks near

Our house and spoke to people who

Were outside. I knocked on several

Doors and rang several doorbells, but

Most people didn’t answer.

Mental, Part 3

Filling out all the paperwork once I was heavily medicated and in need of social services was a challenge. My dad helped me a lot with that as well as staying organized and getting my thoughts in order. He helped me apply for Dial-a-Ride, which was a must for appointments, since sometimes I couldn’t drive.

When I was in the hospital and they were trying to figure out what to do with me, two options kept coming up: being referred to UF Health Shands and ECT (electroconvulsive therapy). After several months of no improvement, I asked my psychiatrist for a referral to Shands Psychiatric. That would mean a two and a half hour drive, and my appointments were usually late afternoon, which meant an overnight stay in a motel.

Shands had me seeing an intern, with consultation during each visit with a resident doctor. They put me on trazadone for sleep, which helped a lot. Just before I had transferred to Shands my psychiatrist put me on perphenazine, an antipsychotic that would also help with sleep. I tried Shands for about six months, then I started thinking about ECT and going back to my local psychiatrist.

I did a consultation with the ECT doctor and he mentioned Buspirone, which is a non addictive anxiety med. He approved me for ECT, and Jackie’s Mom and my Dad volunteered to be drivers, coming from out of town and staying in our guest bedroom, switching off each week. After the 14th treatment, my memory had taken a plunge and I was still depressed. The doctor recommended stopping there.

I went back to my regular psychiatrist and since the ECT doctor had taken me off the anticonvulsants, Depakote and Gabapentine, they decided to try an old combination that had worked pretty well for a while, Zyprexa and Prozac (Olanzapine and Fluoxetine). Then he put me on Buspirone as well. I had been having mini anxiety attacks with a burning sensation all over my body and my body shook when talking about thoughts and emotions. The Buspirone stopped all that, along with a three times daily dose of propanolol, another anxiety med that I had been on since Shands.

We asked my shrink about memory loss. He suggested referring me to a neurologist. I went to see the neurologist, and he put me through a bunch of tests and memory function was very low, so he started me on a dose of Donepezil. After two months he tested me again and I went from a 70 to a 100 out of 130. He declared it a success.

Back in the Fall of 2017, I started the legal administrative specialist program at Lively Technical School. I had a hard time with the memorization at first, but by the Spring semester I went from D’s and F’s on quizzes, to A’s and B’s. I was very encouraged by my progress. Vocational Rehab was paying for my tuition and books, and after two rejections my SSDI case went to a hearing and I was approved, just as my long term disability coverage was about to run out.

That November my grandmother passed away and a month later I found my friend Curt dead in his house. He had a bad infection in his legs and his body went into sepsis. When I found him all the lights in the house were off and he was laying face up on the floor in his bedroom, with his eyes and mouth wide open. It was a little unsettling, to say the least.

Mental, Part 2

In 2001, I was in grad school for library science and having trouble with group work. I got into an argument online, then felt embarrassed and ashamed and had thoughts of ramming my truck into a brick wall. Instead I admitted myself to the behavioral health center and got on different meds. This was also when I started seeing a psychotherapist. The same one I see to this day. It’s been 17 years now.

Another thing that contributed to my previous crisis was my psychiatrist took me off my heavily sedating meds and put me on something that allowed me to feel and express my feelings better. I eventually got used to it and my mother in law described me as a flower opening up. After that, I was stable for 15 years.

I started on a downturn when I was working in the yard and got into some poison ivy. I went to a dermatologist, and they didn’t look at my chart. They prescribed Prednisone, and it wreaked havoc with my mood. I changed medications numerous times, but I became more and more unstable.

In the Fall of 2015, my doctor wanted to make some major changes in my meds, and we agreed that the best course of action was for me to be hospitalized. I admitted myself to the behavioral health center and it went pretty well, except I didn’t get much sleep. At the end of the week I finally started sleeping through the night and they released me.

I went back to work, but being in the mental hospital again had changed how I saw myself. My confidence and self esteem dropped significantly, and I couldn’t focus or concentrate. I then applied for Family and Medical Leave and was out of work until December. During the time I was on FMLA, I didn’t do much. I was very emotional and fought with my wife, Jackie. She was distraught and didn’t know what to do. I started seeing an art therapist, and doing a lot of marker drawing of abstract designs.

When I returned to work, I wasn’t ready. I was extremely anxious and I couldn’t focus or concentrate. I tried for a few weeks, but showed no improvement. I started getting paranoid about my supervisor and fellow employees, thinking they were judging me and being critical of me. I started to regret being so honest about my mental illness. I knew my boss didn’t really understand, but it wasn’t her fault.

One day in mid-January, I didn’t go to work. I stayed home and wrote an essay entitled, “I’m a Human Being, Not a Robot!” I was tired of the way numbers of production and money were the basis for everything. I was interested in quality, but quantity was valued much more. Jackie texted me but I didn’t respond. She tried calling me, but I didn’t answer. Finally, she got a ride home with Uber and she came in furious. I hadn’t even called work to say I wasn’t coming in. She figured I was manic, and she told me I was going to the behavioral health center.

I went along with it at first, but after I was there a couple days, I got angry and wanted out. I didn’t like how I was being treated. Jackie and the social worker arranged a family meeting, and I broke down. I cried for a long time. The psychiatrist changed my code to compulsory, which was like a Baker Act for someone already admitted and my wife signed it.

I had a hard time this go round. I clashed with the nurses and the social workers, and I seriously considered filing grievances. I was also having a hard time with the group therapy. I was so sensitive to everything said, and it was overwhelming. Finally, I asked the social worker if they could give me something to turn my brain off. I just couldn’t take it anymore. We discussed some of the meds I was on back in 1996. Risperdal. Depakote. They gave me really strong doses and put me in a blocked room that was not normally used. They gave me permission to be in the day room to journal and do art during group time.

I talked to the music therapist and she suggested I meet with the chief officer of the hospital. Later that week she came by and introduced herself, but we didn’t discuss any issues. I got really sad one day and cried in my room. I wanted to go home. I wanted to be free again. That day I didn’t go to eat lunch and the med nurse tried to talk me into eating. She brought me a sandwich and I ate. Then I remembered that my family had brought me snacks and drinks, so I started asking for them.

I refused to go to the cafeteria for meals. I didn’t like the atmosphere. One time they made me go. I had a hard time figuring out what to do and I didn’t eat much. One night I started to get delirious and started to think about suicide. I told the chief nurse and she gave me a sedative. She tried to get me to go to sleep but I wouldn’t cooperate. After that happened, the chief officer never came back.

Eventually, I started to sleep through the night. I couldn’t think well, and my speech was slurred. I even requested a wheel chair because my legs would get weak sometimes. Once I was calm and stopped acting out, they started to prepare to release me. When I got home I eventually put in for a medical retirement. I filed for long term disability through my job, and called an attorney they referred me to about Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

Mental, Part 1

In 1996, I invited myself to the nuthouse. Not the lengthy stay one, but the one referred to as a crisis unit. The first time I went I got in all sorts of trouble for writing down violent fantasies about others, including a woman I had made friends with.

The shrink I was matched with had already decided that I was just having thoughts, not in danger of acting on them. He told me that I didn’t need to be afraid of my thoughts, because that’s all they were. But apparently one of the chief nurses didn’t get the memo, because she made me sit down with my friend and tell her face to face about these violent thoughts, as if I was planning it all out or something. The chief nurse told me I had to stay away from her from then on.

The next day the psychiatrist told the nurse I was not a danger, and he even went as far as blocking my reentry the next time I attempted to be admitted. So I had to go to a different nuthouse, and this time I didn’t write down any violent fantasies and I stuck to my story that I had a plan to hurt a young girl. It really wasn’t true, but I had learned a little bit about how the system works and being a highly self-critical chap that I am I didn’t have to try very hard to convince myself.

I went back to that place once or twice, and the last time my insurance company made me move to a cheaper unit that was mostly for people Baker-Acted for drunk and disorderly conduct. Before I was moved I succeeded in getting into bed with one of the female clients, she wanted to fool around, but not involving her body below the belly button. I also taught a member of the staff to play chess. That was fun. When they moved me to the other unit, I was extremely anxious and my body would shake. It was difficult to eat, even harder to sleep. My roommate was having withdrawals, and it was scary to watch. I dreaded being there so much I tried to call a good friend in another city, five hundred miles away, who was a policeman, to get me out. He said he couldn’t do anything about it, so I resigned myself to sticking it out.

The last time that year, I was in occupational therapy, and the staff member confronted me about my numerous admittances there and said how I needed to make a decision to do whatever it took to rectify my situation. From then on I decided to see a psychiatrist and make sure I took my medicine. It would be five years until I would admit myself again, that time, for thoughts of suicide.

Maybe

When I was fab I got into ivy, poisoned me. Prednisone overtook me until moods went wacky. Tried every thing to fix what’s wrong with me. Even went with ECT. Travelled to Gator country for a while, but no dice, baby. Back to square one now, with zyprexa and fluoxetine. Time will tell if I’ll go crazy. Right now, I’m not sleeping. Is it mania? Moods are swinging me every which way. Just trying to get along with everybody. Looking forward to returning to sanity. Maybe, one day. Maybe.

A Troubled Mind

Training one’s mind to not think in

Circles can be tricky if one is focused on

Other things, besides what is happening

At the present moment. Sometimes, we

Get trapped in the past or the future, and

We forget to enjoy right now, we lose any

Effective concentration, and short circuit

Our ability to communicate with the ones

Around us who really count. We also do

Not tell ourselves what we need to hear,

That times of trouble will pass, or have

Passed, and that we will be okay. Either

We will survive, or we will not, but

Neither result is reason to fear. As the

Apostle Paul wrote, “Oh, Death, where is

Thy sting?” So many things cause us fear,

And yet most of it is an illusion. As FDR

Said, “We have nothing to fear, but fear

Itself!” Those are truly words to live by.

Strife steeple apple clarity boom

Strife steeple apple clarity boom

Stack swordfight against an orangutan

From the head clerk of the zoo.

The orangutan would only be

Supplied with a plastic spoon, so

Easy to cut a man’s skin off the

Bone, into an artery, sever a vein,

Something, damn it, there’s a walk in

Place for taking a piss. Ouch your sigh.

Life sucks. And I would agree.

Sometimes, maybe for most people,

Life does suck. Maybe if they turned

Every church in town, staffed, organized

And otherwise provided for it to function

Like any other mental health unit of a

Hospital, and then took on the insurance

And pharmaceutical rackets, you’d see

Healing right away.

 

 

Humanity: The First and Last Form of Capital

Capitalism is an ugly thing. Really ugly, at its worst. But you wouldn’t expect it, except when you see it in action in the poorest of countries, those we don’t care to help, in contrast to the way our Defense Department spends millions of dollars of our tax money to help, assist or protect other countries. At first, capitalism seems harmless, helpful, even wonderful. People just using whatever given resources they have, and then building something out of nothing. What happens, is that because each creator of a new business, especially once the business begins to take off, perhaps through their own ingenuity, hard work and lots of luck, they feel like they are an artist looking back at her canvas, and the end result is something beautiful. A religious person might say the creator and sustainer, can just sit back, make a few adjustments here and there, and let the god of capitalism bestow upon her one and only beloved daughter, the holy grail. And if this daughter does exceptionally well for herself, she will be able to shower the gift of salvation with all the true believers, the ones whom have been faithful with their talents, multiplying each for much more. Sounds like a beautiful thing, right? First, a story.

 

It all started out with a creator of an object. As the creator started to use the object, all were inspired by the god of capitalism, and the god gave it a blessing, that the daughter of god, would have dominion over her object, with a power to give a name to her creation. In her eternal wisdom, the creator gave such a beautiful name, it seemed to surpass even the beauty of the object itself. This miracle was required to save all of humanity, with this one, great and powerful gift. Her followers would then be given a greater gift, which she then revealed to them, was instilled inside their souls, a true reflection of herself, even though they themselves had not seen it. When she spoke these words, they knew in their hearts it was true.

 

Later, the creator called together her followers for a banquet, during which she explained she would reveal to each of them, what her purpose was on earth. During the banquet, she took out her object, and held it up to them once again, and they felt blessed and privileged to see it again. Suddenly, within their minds they saw a vision of a heavenly kingdom, which would be built upon this one object, and they knew that they were witnessing the god of capitalism in their midst. The creator pronounced that from this one gift, they would all be able to do as she has done, indeed, even greater things. She proclaimed that all that would be required from her children, would be for them to always remember her, as well as the object she had created and shown to them. Then she told them that she would have to leave soon, but that a great Comforter would come to them, bestowing on them all the strength that they would need. The followers of the creator felt a bit nervous with this announcement, but with this great Comforter coming, they still had hope, if they could only let it all settle into their souls. “How can we do the same thing?” they asked themselves. After the creator left, however, great success was achieved by many.

 

Capitalism was created to benefit the one with the capital, not the ones who may be the greatest asset to the business. This is because of a great hierarchy that exists. The farther down the totem pole you are from the owner, the least value you have to them, and, in turn, the further you are from getting paid what you are worth. This is the case with companies with a fast turnaround, because pay should be according to the value you have to the company, in general, excluding how much money you make for the owner. Hourly pay raises should be according to a quota, but that quota should include all types of work done, not just the kind of work that can be seen from an ivory tower, i.e., on a spreadsheet full of dollar amounts.

 

Companies who truly put their employees first, time and again, have the best chance of reaping the most profits, the least turnaround, more loyalty, more job security, best training programs and the happiest employees. But the first step is to pay them what they are worth. None of these things will happen without that. With it, they will be more interested and even excited about how the company is doing, because they will know that the company’s success is their success. If your employees don’t feel appreciated, and if it’s not reflected in their pay, you are not doing everything you can for your company, yourself, and your most precious resource, your employees.