Rage

In more ways than one, I am approaching rock bottom. Physically, psychologically, emotionally, financially. I am a disaster.

I left the hospital, but the truth is that I should still be there. And they all told me that. Every doctor I had to see. I don’t even know how many, because they all looked the same to me. Covered by masks and gowns, all I could decipher were voices, all saying the same thing. You are very sick.

I was not prepared. I thought I was just having trouble breathing. I shrugged it off until the coughing got worse, enough that I started coughing up blood on my way home from work. I took a detour to the ER, expecting a breathing treatment and a discharge. Instead I ended up with an admission to isolation with the avian flu, suspected pneumonia, and a COPD exacerbation.

I fought to get out. I left them with little choice; if they didn’t discharge me, I was leaving AMA, and they knew if I left without medication, I could get sicker and die. I still endured their lectures, their voices of concern. You’re very sick, they said. And all I could say to them was I’ve been through a lot worse.

I don’t know how much more my body can take. It’s been through hell, and I just keep making it worse. You would think I’d be doing my best to stay healthy, but I’m just pushing myself closer and closer to pain and death. I walked around aimlessly yesterday, in the cold, smoking cigarette after cigarette, cycling through fits of crying and fits of rage.

I had such an intense urge to die. I ran through the street as cars were turning in, but none of them hit me. Why can’t I just get that one distracted driver to do me in? I tried to cut my wrists, but I couldn’t get my hands to stop shaking. Why can’t I just be strong enough to do it myself?

I think about getting high almost every day. I miss it. I miss not having to think about shit for awhile. I miss the feeling, the feeling that nothing else matters because you can stop giving a fuck about everything for awhile. Poverty is probably the only thing that has been saving me from that right now. I can’t even afford to live, let alone afford coke. But that’s my fault, too. I let people walk all over me, I let them take advantage of me because I’m just so afraid to say no, so worried about hurting people’s feelings at the expense of hurting myself and my own. I paid their bills when I should have just been paying my own. So now they are sitting with their new phones and tablets, and I’m selling mine just so I can afford one more week of therapy and another bag of rice. But it’s my fault. I can’t be mad at anyone else, so I hold it inside, just like I’ve held everything else for so long.

I’ve been thinking about calling my mother. To say what, I don’t know. Maybe to say I’m sorry for being such a horrible daughter. Maybe to hear her voice, to sense her familiar anger. Maybe to ask her why, why she had to do the things she did, the things that have led me where I am today.

Or maybe to let out my rage on her because the rage I’ve been unleashing on myself hasn’t been working. It just keeps building and building and I don’t know what else to do. But I know if I go on like this much longer, the rage will destroy me before anything else does.

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The Things I Did When I Was Hopeless

I never expected this life.

I never expected to be able to step out the front door and walk down the street; before, I was not allowed to leave the house by myself for any reason.

I never expected to be able to check my own mail; before, I never even had a key to the mailbox.

I never expected to be able to lock my bedroom door and sleep at night without fear of being abused; before, I could never rest easily, knowing that my mother could come in at any time.

All of the things my mother told me would happen, they haven’t come true.

She told me that no one would ever like or love me, but I’ve made friends here.

She told me I would never amount to anything, but I’m doing great things.

She told me I could never live without her, but I’ve been living without her now for 13 months.

I wish I would have known that my life would be this different before I did the things I did when I was hopeless.

For a long time, I was a prisoner serving a life sentence with no chance of parole. I tried to reach out for help, and people turned away. I tried to run away from home, but my mother found out every time. I tried, for so long I tried to get free, and instead I ended up trapped even more. So I gave up. I lost all hope. I believed that I was going to spend the rest of my life in that hell.

I was living a shell of an existence, leading a life of pain I didn’t want to prolong any more than I had to. I had no access to a gun, or I would have ended it right then and there. I made several attempts to end my life as early as six years old, but none of them worked. All it got me was damaged kidneys and an even deeper sense of hopelessness.

So I found covert ways to slowly kill myself. I swallowed pills like tictacs, knowing they would damage my kidneys even more. I banged my head against walls and gave myself concussions, hoping one time that I would pass out and never wake up. I drank until I blacked out, hoping I would eventually get to a point where it would be enough to finally crash my system.

And I smoked. I knew that smoking was a guaranteed risk for me. I had already been struggling with asthma and chronic pneumonia since I was 14 years old. I knew that smoking would make me sick. I knew that it would further damage my already damaged lungs. This. This was my ticket to death. This was my escape from hell.

I smoked for years. Even as I felt the pressure building in my chest, the familiar feel of fluid accumulating in my lungs, I continued to smoke. It got to a point where breathing was no longer automatic; it was an effort. It was painful. Not being able to breathe is a scary feeling, one I’m not even sure I can adequately describe to someone who has been lucky enough to never experience it. But every time I became gravely ill, every time I could hear the crackling in my lungs with each breath I took, I secretly hoped it would be the end for me. The pain it caused was nowhere near the pain I felt existing in the prison I was in. I was hopeless.

I did not expect to make it here. I did not expect to escape. I am free now, but all those things I did when I was hopeless have followed me. The scars will fade, the bruises heal.

But my COPD will not go away. And I can’t help but blame myself. I know that it’s not just one thing that caused it. I was medically neglected. I lived in filth and breathed in mold spores every night. I worked five days a week in a dusty warehouse, inhaling so much dust that I would cough up gray mucous every night. But I also smoked. Because I wanted to die. And that’s all I can think about.

When I see an older person on the street, I wonder if I will ever make it to that age. I think about all of the things I will miss out on, the good and the bad. I missed out on my entire childhood. I lost my adolescence. I lost 11 years old my adulthood. And I’ll likely lose most of my elderhood. All because I was so hopeless, I did things I knew would kill me, because I never expected to be free.

When I was first diagnosed, I existed in a world of conscious denial for a while. I told myself that I had nothing to worry about, that I was young, that I didn’t need to take my medications because I felt okay. I acted like I was invincible to the effects of the disease. Then I learned that someone had passed away from COPD – a woman who was only one year older than me. I grieved for her, and I also began grieving my own death. No longer could I tell myself I’m young. I could end up dead. I am not immune.

The irony is that, if this were two years ago, I would have gladly accepted death. I wanted it, because death was the only way I thought I could escape my mother’s abuse. But I don’t want to die. I’ve experienced a life I never expected to live, and I don’t want to lose that any earlier than I have to.

While there is a small part of me that still holds on to hopelessness, that still wants to die, there is a larger part of me that wants to live.

 

There’s no need for any doctors

I’ve been dealing with a significant medical issue for the last ten days.

And when I say dealing with, I mean actively avoiding, pretending it’s not happening, and keeping my mouth shut about it, hoping it will resolve on its own. Because you know, that’s how I handle most things in my life. That’s how I was taught to handle most things in my life.

Medical avoidance is my norm. That is one thing I have carried on from my mother. She only took us to the doctor when it was required (because of school forms) or when I was near death. And even then, I was made to feel like it was some kind of burden on her for me to be sick.

Well before I was diagnosed with asthma at age 14, I kept telling my parents that something was wrong. I had to struggle to catch my breath. I felt like I was suffocating.

“It’s just allergies.”

Except it wasn’t just allergies. I suffered for a long time until my lungs filled up with so much fluid that I could no longer breathe. It wasn’t until then that my mother finally took me to the doctor. I probably would have died if she had waited any longer.

By then, the damage was already done. I spent the next 14 years in and out of hospitals, battling pneumonia and lung infections, living off of oral steroids and liquid Albuterol just to stay alive (and for those that may not know, oral steroids are simultaneously the best and the worst drugs ever).

I always waited until the very last minute to seek medical treatment. Concerned friends would tell me I was turning blue. “I’m alright, just cold,”I’d tell them. Then within the week, I’d be in the ER on oxygen. I wasn’t cold, I knew what was coming. I just was taught to think that I didn’t need medical care. I grew up believing that I didn’t deserve medical care.

And I’m still practicing that belief. I went to the doctor back in March, with my therapist, after her consistent prodding and encouragement. It was at that appointment that I was diagnosed with COPD. I haven’t been back to the doctor since. My prescription ran out, and I’ve been living unmedicated for months now.

I think I’m doing just fine, considering. My therapist is not as inclined to think so. We were discussing the impending hospitalization, and her reasons for wanting me to go. She mentioned me not receiving medical care.

“I don’t need medical care, I’m fine.”

“You have COPD, and you’re not getting treatment for that.”

“Yea but I don’t need it, I’ve been okay.”

“For now. But that’s not just something that can be put to the side.”

On a deeper level, I still feel undeserving of care. That ties into my even deeper belief that I am undeserving of love, and undeserving of life. Maybe I have COPD because I am undeserving of oxygen. Who knows.

I wasn’t even going to tell my therapist about my current issue. I had already endured enough of her semi-lecturing this session. But I found myself immensely tired during session. My therapist assumed it was related to not wanting to talk about the difficult stuff (which I admit, in the past, it has been). I kept telling her this was different, and she asked how I knew it was.

I finally told her what’s been going on. I knew it was just going to further prove her point about me needing to go to the doctor. Luckily for me, I squeezed in my admission right at the end of session, so I didn’t have to talk about it all that much. I’m sure I will hear about it on Thursday. Hopefully by then, the issue will be resolved and I can just say “see, I told you I was going to be fine.”

Or, it won’t. Either way, I’ll sit there and say everything is okay. I could be bleeding to death, and I’ll still tell you I’m okay.

That’s what I did in childhood. That’s what I do today.

Trapped Air

I’m going to write several blog posts because the topics are so varied, and I really don’t want to mash them into one giant clusterfuck of a blog post.

I’ve been feeling kind of shitty physically lately. I assume it’s because I am adjusting to the new respiratory medications (even though they are not new, I’ve just been off medications for the last several months because I’ve been sans doctor). Or I could be getting sick, because one of the unpleasant side effects of corticosteroid medications is that they suppress your immune system, making you more susceptible to illness. Isn’t that funny how that works?

Last week, my doctor explained to me how air was getting into my lungs, but wasn’t getting out – instead, getting trapped inside. For normal people, breathing out should not require any effort. For me, it requires a massive amount of effort, and even then, air is still trapped inside.

As I thought about this more, I couldn’t help but find it so similar to the rest of my life’s experiences. I took in trauma after trauma, and then it got trapped inside my brain and now those memories can’t really get out.

I was literally trapped in my house for most of my life. I was trapped in a family I didn’t want.

Why is “trapped” a recurring theme in my life? Trapped body, trapped memories, now trapped air.

I’m still in a little bit of denial. Once I moved, I just told myself all of my breathing problems were because I was living in filth. That was a possibility. My family was not clean. There was dust, mold, mildew, and bugs, aside from a menagerie of poorly taken care of animals (including five cats all sharing two small litter boxes). I was in and out of the hospital since my early teen years with pneumonia and unstable O2 labels.That was my norm. I thought that would all disappear once I moved. But it didn’t. Because it’s a disease. The damage is already done.

On a positive note, I have been smoking a tiny bit less. Still smoking. But less. In all honesty, it’s probably the medication at work, because I have not been making a conscious effort to do so.

On a less positive note, it’s really annoying to be talking to someone and randomly cough up a string of mucous.

Doctor’s Appointment

I had my doctor’s appointment on Monday.

It was full of a lot of disappointment.

I am proud of myself for sticking through it and not backing out, despite terrible anxiety.

I sat in the waiting room filling out endless paperwork. I’m pretty sure my legs were shaking the entire time. I considered walking out twice, but I couldn’t.

I finally got in the room and the doctor came in. She seemed a nice. A little upbeat. I’m weary of upbeat people. Perhaps she drank too much coffee. She looked over my paperwork, then focused on my lengthy list of hospitalizations. Panic attacks, psychiatric, psychiatric, malnutrition, psychiatric, psychiatric, and then at least six hospitalizations for pneumonia that I could remember in the last decade. Then she noticed the name of the hospital and asked me where it was.

“Oh, I delivered babies at that hospital. I used to live there!”

My heart sank a little. Of the hundreds of cities and towns in this state, this doctor happened to live in my hometown, just a few minutes away from where I used to live. It’s not even a major city, which makes it even more weird. A part of me instantly put a guard up. Anyone from back home is a possible threat in my mind, even though the actual likelihood that they are is slim to none. Tell my brain that.

She did a mental health/depression screening. I failed. I should have known better. Because then, of course, she wanted to put me on psych meds. No thanks. She named several antidepressants that her patients had shown success on. That’s great. Except a) I don’t have clinical depression and b) I can’t take anti-depressants. I am part of the small percentage of people who have reverse reactions to SSRIs and SNRIs and end up more depressed and suicidal. There are no medications for DID. I didn’t come here for psych meds. I started to get frustrated and lost hope in the rest of the appointment.

Then she suggested a medication for my migraines, and said it would also help me stop smoking. I recognized the name as a medication I had taken before and had to stop taking because I couldn’t handle the nausea and complete loss of appetite. But she was a little insistent, even after I subtly mentioned a few times that eating enough is already a problem for me. But I’m fat, so most doctors don’t see past that and assume I could benefit from a loss in appetite. They don’t realize that, just two years ago, I weighed 160 pounds more than I do now. I just gave in and let her write the prescription, telling myself I could decide later on if I wanted to take it. Then I realized that her dosage is 4X the dose I was taking when I stopped taking it some time ago. So I’m certain taking this medication will not go over well.

She was especially concerned with my respiratory problems. I have a history of asthma, chronic pneumonia, and respiratory failure. I smoke. I have a family history of heart disease. She wanted an EKG, but by the end of the appointment I just couldn’t do it. She listened to my lungs. I hate taking deep breaths, because I can hear and feel the air struggling to get out of my lungs when I exhale. It is not a good sound. It is not a good feeling. This was no different.

She tried to explain, using her hands, what was happening to my lungs. She mentioned COPD – and this wasn’t the first time I had heard that. My long history of respiratory problems and consistent pattern of breathing difficulties had been pushing me towards a COPD diagnosis, but no doctors had ever made it official and never made it a priority. She prescribed me a few different inhalers, which she said would treat both asthma and COPD. And in my mind, it hadn’t yet clicked that she was insinuating that I had COPD. I thought she was just saying it was a risk to try to get me to stop smoking.

But then, the next day, I checked my medical record online to make sure all of my information went through, and right there, towards the top of my chart, was chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, unspecified – Active – Diagnosis Date 03212016. For some reason, in that moment, it hit me. This diagnosis was on my medical record. What the fuck.

I was angry. I was enraged. Not at myself. But AT THE DOCTOR. How could she do this to me? I am 30 years old. COPD is for old people. I am not old. I do not have COPD. And being the irrational person that I am sometimes, I responded by going to the store and buying MORE cigarettes – because in my mind, if I already have the diagnosis, why the fuck should I care now? It’s just been a whirlwind of emotions about this that I still haven’t processed yet.

Going back to the appointment, she took a lot of blood. Probably more than I’ve ever had taken before. She is testing my vitamin levels, thyroid, blood titers, all the usual shit and then some. And that was it. There was so much focus on my mental health and my breathing, issues that I thought I had under control, and nothing about my constant pain. I was disappointed. I have to go back and see her next month, but I just don’t know if it’s worth the travel to get there. It did not go as we (me and my therapist) had hoped. I will talk to my therapist more about it in our session tomorrow, but I just don’t know. I need to take some time and think it over. As I smoke more cigarettes. With my new inhalers.

I’m sad that so many doctors don’t consider the past, only the present. Of course I have trouble sleeping and hate life sometimes. If you knew what I experienced the last 30 years, my present makes sense. Yes, I’m overweight now. But I lost a tremendous amount of weight in a relatively short amount of time and got sick from it. So while yes, I need to lose weight, I don’t need to promote my eating disorder to do so.

I know that some of my health issues are my own fault. Smoking does not help my cause. But I also had severe respiratory problems well before I started smoking. I started because at that point, I didn’t care. Part of me still doesn’t. But still. I’m only fucking 30. Where the fuck did I go wrong in life?

Meanwhile, the shittiest fucking people alive are still living. My mother will probably outlive me. My father has had several heart attacks, a stroke, and congestive heart failure for years and he is STILL hanging on. What the fuck.

Life is a cruel joke sometimes.