Why is red hot and blue cold? Why is green considered calming and yellow uplifting? Somewhere along the line we are trained by society that certain colors mean certain things, even if we learn that red stars are cooler than blue stars.
I have a new therapist - who I am loving, by the way. He does what a therapist is supposed to: he gets me talking, doesn't judge, and helps me work through my issues. I saw him for the third time just the other day and we ended up having a fascinating (at least for me) discussion about color.
We were talking about the usual stuff and I mentioned I had managed to paint one painting that week and I had put it on my wall because I found it very calming. I showed him a photo of it on my phone and it started a fascinating discussion on perception and color.
You see, the painting is red. Pretty much blood red. In the photo it is still wet so it is glossy and pretty much still dripping. Once it dried, I sprayed it with a high-gloss finish so it would still look bright and shiny. I guess most people don’t see blood red - especially dripping blood red - as calming unless they have a history of self-harm, which I do. So he started asking the usual questions regarding if I feel like hurting myself, etc.
The truth is - and what I told him - is the color red doesn’t calm me because it makes me think of blood. It calms me because it looks cooler to me (as in temperature) and that the wavelengths are slower. So it is calming. Blue can make me agitated because the wavelengths are faster and it is hotter. Green is OK, because it makes me think of plants and growing things, but it isn’t as calming as red.
Somewhere in my schizophrenic brain, I have broken the cultural preconceptions on color and I didn’t realize I was doing it. Red is the root chakra, the earth, the coolest-burning stars. It is the slowest of the visible colors and leads down to infrared and other deep, cool, slow, calm places. Blue and purple - at the other end of the visible spectrum - are hot and fast. They have their place, but if I am already agitated or stressed they just make it worse.
I didn’t even mention to him how the different colors sound. I think I’ll work him up to it slowly. We don’t want to freak out the therapist after only three sessions; I rather like him.
I am angry at the counselor that I went to for a few months a while ago.
I described this feeling to her so many times and not once did she give it a name or suggest that I might seek medication. Now that I've put the pieces together, it seems so obvious.
I describe the feeling as running down a hill and not being able to stop. I do and say things that I wouldn't otherwise because I can't stop running. I can't stop seeking approval from others. I can't stop being disruptive even when I can see the consequences. And when I get to the bottom of the hill I hate myself.
I don't have a name for that state as a whole, but the behavior and feeling is poor impulse control.
Last night I lapsed into it.
I wrote before about being on a new antidepressant. It has been amazing once I got adjusted to it. I feel so much more even-tempered and I don't agonize as much over social situations.
Yesterday I forgot to take my pill (I'm terrible at remembering to take pills, but I've been pretty good so far, missing only two doses in two months) and so midway through my Sunday night tabletop roleplaying game I realized that I was running down that hill again.
I was being disruptive. I was interrupting and being snarky and rude. I was chafing against authority figures in and out of character. I was telling things that weren't mine to tell.
I cried last night afterward, hating myself for my poor impulse control. Realizing that even if I wasn't fully in control of my behavior, I am fully in control of whether or not I take my pill.
It is a hard lesson.
In the course of the last four days, I have read every post on this site (thank you OCD). I was searching for resources regarding mental illness deriving from childhood sexual abuse and Google was kind enough to direct me here.
I've always thought that my issues were inconsequential. That I have had no worse experiences than any other soul on this earth. I've shared some of my experiences with a select few people, and the look on their faces has always puzzled me. This is my life, what is there to be shocked about?
Back on point. Spending these last four days reading about all of your joys, heartaches, pain and recovery has jostled a few memories of my own. Some things are always at the back of my mind, but others have been dredged from the depths.
Let's start with my diagnoses.
I've been diagnosed as Bipolar twice (but I contest it), Anxiety and OCD. The Bipolar was diagnosed during two full fledged breakdowns. The first was after a half-assed suicide attempt during a bad marriage at age 24 and the second during the first five minutes with the WORST PSYCHIATRIST EVER. Seriously. This guy grandly announced I was Bipolar after I mumbled it was a previous diagnosis.
But that's a story for another day.
I feel it's time to finally tell my story. I've avoided seeing this information in print for years. I've carried so much shame, self-blame and self-doubt that my soul is weary. While I'm not yet ready to delve deep into my experiences, this is a good place to start.
I was sexually abused by our 16 year old neighbor and his 15 year old sister somewhere between the ages of two and four.
My parents separated for work for six months and I witnessed my mother's breakdown when I was eight.
When I was fourteen, I had my first suicide attempt which was, thankfully, a rather pathetic one. When I was fifteen I had my first attempt at therapy but I did not say one word for the entire six sessions.
At seventeen I was raped for the first time at gunpoint by a "friend." The same year, one of my best friends committed suicide. I was the last person to speak with him. He told me that he was going to do it, but I did not take him seriously.
I made a second suicide attempt at age nineteen. Swallowed over 400 aspirin and ended up in the ICU for four days. There was some limited therapy to follow but I don't remember much about that. I told my parents at this point about the sexual abuse. It was the worst thing I have ever had to do in my life and 20 years later my mom still cries. It kills me.
When I was 24 I got married for the first time, and at 25 I had my first affair. I also tried to commit suicide for the third time. I was driving my car over 100 MPH on curvy back roads and attempting to run it into something. This landed me in a psychiatric ward for two weeks, with a Bipolar diagnosis. My marriage ended two years later.
At age 28 I was raped a second time by two men while I was drunk and in a foreign country.
When I was 29, I found out I was pregnant and had an abortion. The man that I assumed to be the father threatened to kill me if I even thought about having a baby while the man I am dating tells me that he will leave me if I have this baby. I was wrong. About it all.
I got married for a second time when I was 32, and it took all of three days for it to go to hell. Three years later I began having daily panic attacks, and within two months I am unable to leave the house. I developed paranoia and severe depression. I started seeing the WORST PSYCHIATRIST IN THE WORLD. Because of this man, I lost my job.
Shortly after losing my job, my husband told me that he really never loved me and that he just used me to get our house and the money I made. This does not assist with my recovery. He raped me. I moved back in with my parents.
After three more years, I was finally free of that man. I was broke as hell, and my credit was ruined but I was extremely happy.
Now at age 39, I have been out of work for two months with an injury. I am thankful that I have support, but the depression that started last April has blown up. I feel lost.
There is more, if I only could remember.
Thank you, all of you, for inspiring me to start this.
Band Back Together has been nominated for Best Group or Community Weblog in the 2013 Bloggies! Visit their site to vote and check out the other categories!
Band Back Together has been nominated for Best Group or Community Weblog in the 2013 Bloggies! Visit their site
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"May cause weight gain."
That's what the prescription pamphlet says. My therapist said it too while he was writing it out for me, then added "but it doesn't happen to everyone."
The last anti-psychotic he put me on didn't make me gain weight; it was the sitting around, not moving, and stress eating during my depressive episode that did. Unfortunately, the other side effects weren't manageable for me so we went with this one instead.
I feel great.
My anxiety level is down and I've been moving again. I've even been going to the store and driving, which were impossible for me before. The difference is amazing and I wish I'd been on this medication before.
The only problem is my weight.
You see, in order to keep from gaining more weight and to make myself feel better, I started exercising and eating better. However, my good friends in the pill bottle are making it incredibly hard to lose any weight at all.
While everyone else is shedding pounds and talking about how great they feel on their New Year's diet and exercise regimen - I'm happy for them, don't get me wrong - I feel like a miserable failure.
I've been running every other day, walking the hard trails on Saturdays with my husband, counting calories and watching what I eat, and I've managed to lose a whole three pounds.
My clothes are still as snug as ever and doctors continue to hand me pamphlets about how being fat is going to cause me health problems, either not knowing or not caring that I'm fighting for every pound I lose.
I want to lose weight, too. I want to fit into the clothes I wore before my breakdown. I want to take some of the pressure off my knees so I don't damage them running. I want to be able to go to a doctor's appointment without being told, "If you lost a few pounds, you'd feel so much better!"
The only doctor who doesn't remind me of what an eyesore I am is my psychiatrist because he understands. He says that I'll lose weight, it'll just take me longer and I'll have to keep working at it. He says eventually I'll get back to where I was, and I know he's right.
I just have to keep doing what I'm doing, and things will get better.
But most days I just feel like giving up.
Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the US.
This is how suicide has played a part in her life.
Cars and trucks make my toddler’s world go round. He adores them in all shapes, sizes, and colors.
Imagine his curiosity when the doorbell rang at home and a police officer was standing there with his car seat in hand. After the officer exchanged a few words with my husband; my child’s excitement must have grown by fifty when my husband secured the seat in the back of the police car. His eyes bulged when he was strapped in, seated next to daddy, for an actual ride in the car.
The ride brought them over a bridge, beach-side, to where my car was parked, but I was not in the car. The officer handed the set of keys to my husband and my son’s car seat made the switch.
Within fifteen minutes, my son took the ride of his life in the back of a police car and returned home; where his momma was not.
An hour prior, I was driving home from the beach. A police SUV pulled behind me and I was careful to watch my speed; decreasing it as the beach city approached. I couldn’t help but wonder what I had done when the lights began to flash. I pulled over into a nearby parking spot right along the boardwalk. The officer approached my window and asked if I knew why I was being pulled over. For the life of me, I couldn’t provide an answer.
“Another officer will be by shortly to speak with you.” He said. He asked for my keys and I handed them over.
I was nervous but couldn’t figure out why. I started humming which turned to singing. I wish I could remember the tune; it was so very comforting at the time.
When the other officer arrived, I was asked to step out of the vehicle and walk to the rear of it. I did so without question. Before another word was uttered, I was being frisked and basically felt up by a woman police officer.
“Would you mind telling me what the fuck this is all about?” I demanded. I didn’t care about my language usage. I felt violated.
“Pamela, did you threaten to kill yourself on Twitter?” He asked.
With a chuckle I replied, “Perhaps in a roundabout sort of way. I may have mentioned how much of a certain drug it would take to overdose. I may have sent a direct message to someone I confide in just about daily that I was thinking about picking up my prescription and swallowing the contents of the bottle. It’s just an ordinary day in the life of a girl with Bipolar Disorder, sir.”
I tend to use humor to get myself out of trouble. This time it dug me in a little deeper.
Next thing I knew, my hands were behind my back and I was being cuffed. The ocean air began to make me feel dizzy and I had to sit down. Luckily I was being escorted to the back of a police car so I could, you know, relax.
I sat there in awe. How could this be happening to me? Why was I taken seriously on this day of all days?
The time was dragging on and I couldn’t understand what we were waiting for. I watched as the police searched my car. I watched them pull out the plastic bag, which contained my running gear. I saw the empty coffee cup in the hands of another. The blue cup with the straw sticking out, which I often keep with me filled with water, was brought to an officer’s nose for a sniff test.
It was getting really warm in the back of that police car. I could hear the radio belting out calls from dispatch. I had a clear view of the officer’s laptop. Right in front of me was a gun, secured to the protective glass that separated me from the front of the vehicle. The seat was hard and plastic. My wrists were writhing in pain.
Finally the door opened and I spoke up, “How necessary are these cuffs? I’m not going anywhere!”
“You’re in our custody now. You are being Baker Acted. It’s the law.” I was told.
Baker Acted. Were they fucking kidding me?
“Could you maybe loosen them? I can’t really feel my hands anymore.” And they did.
A short while later I was shifted from one police vehicle to another. This officer was much nicer. He opened the window separating me from the front seat so we could talk. He promised we would arrive at the hospital in thirty minutes. While the cuffs weren’t as tight, they were still very uncomfortable. I wondered why they couldn’t cuff me in the front of my body.
When we pulled up to the hospital I said, “Damn, I was expecting the Four Seasons.” At least he giggled with me.
I walked with my head down, through the halls toward the Psychiatric Ward. The door clicked behind me and I shuttered because I had been there before. This time it wasn’t of my own free will.
I was there under the Florida Baker Act; the Florida Mental Health Act. It is a means of providing an individual with emergency services and temporary detention for mental health evaluation and treatment.
I was under the involuntary Baker Act because without treatment, there was a substantial likelihood in the near future I would inflict serious bodily harm on myself as evidenced by recent behavior.
I spent the night in lock-up. The next day, the hospital's psychiatrist came in to speak with me. Rather than really ask me what my future plans were, he more or less formulated his own story in that I was never suicidal to begin with and I would be safe when I left the hospital. I nodded in agreement and was released.
This happened about a year ago.
Not a day goes by where I don't think about suicide.
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