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I dunno what to do. This paranoia thing, and the fight or flight response, the flight reaction in public but, and worse, the fight reaction in more private settings, is happening more and more. so it seems. Almost constantly in fact. Coupled with my deficient memory, it makes for some literal misunderstandings on my part with unfortunate consequences for Karen.
Case in point, this afternoon I had a very loud and nearly public fight with her (out in the empty hallway) which was entirely my fault from start to finish.
She wanted her library DVD’s, which I had, and suddenly they were nowhere to be found. In a panic, I told her so by intercom, but I “knew” exactly what had happened to them: Karen had let herself in with her key when I stepped out for ten minutes, had taken them and hidden them in her apartment. Now she planned to call me and say that she had paid the $75 each that the library charges -- but of course she had done no such thing --and expected me to pay her back. Quick easy cash. Well, I had her all figured out and No way, Jose´.
When she actually came to the door, it was locked against her, rather than open as it usually is. “Where were you and what were you doing?” I yelled without opening.
“I was in my apartment, calling the library --” Aha! I was right, I thought. Just wait till she says she paid for them...” to see if the DVDs had been returned, since you said they weren’t in your apartment.”
“Why would they be returned?!” I cracked the door, and saw Karen and Gary standing there, Karen with the white plastic bag of the DVDs I had been looking for. I was so astonished I opened the door all the way. “Why, you have them! I knew it. You had them all along, you came into my apartment and took them! You were just gas-lighting me!”
“Not these DVDs, the ones for Joe, the other five. I want the other five.” Karen stood inside my apartment now, and I had moved backwards, but I was furious at what I saw as deception and commanded her to get out at once. “I want the DVDs,” she reiterated.
“Get out of my apartment.” I spoke with cold ,steel-edged fury but I was trembling with fear lest she push the issue and not do as I demanded. “I will get you your DVDs but I want you out of my apartment." Finally she stepped back and I closed the door but didn’t lock it, not wanting to provoke her.
I found the other DVDs and handed them to her, adding, “You had no right to enter my apartment while I was gone and take the DVDs!”
“Pam, I’m sick of being accused by you! I did no such thing. You brought me the DVDs last night. You simply don’t remember. You never remember!”
I felt a jolt, but closed the door and decisively locked it, not wanting to discuss it, but my mind was already awhirl. I brought her the DVDs last night? I don’t remember doing that but in fact she did have the bag with the DVDs inside and how else could she have gotten it, if in fact she didn’t get them by stealing them? My conviction of a plot began to dissipate as the “evidence” for it quickly unraveled...
I wrote a note of apology, which she accepted, but told me I had put her through the mill this week with suspiciousness and accusations, and though I have to admit I also do not remember this, I suspect it is true, given all the other episodes of paranoia I am aware of having experienced elsewhere.
What to do, what to do? I am uncomfortable to the max with all this, and am afraid I will misunderstand something truly important or pick a fight in public. Why is Karen especially the subject of so many absurd plots? She may be histrionic but she doesn’t deserve this level of constant suspiciousness. I’m suspicious of others too, but no one gets the full force of it the way Karen does, perhaps because she is the one who interacts with me the most, I dunno.
In any event, I will take an extra Haldol tonight, because I am so uncomfortable but I’ll have to see how I feel about it in the following days. I cannot afford to have it deaden me... I wish I knew how to lengthen the time between the feeling and the trigger-pulling but I guess that may be the shorter amygdala pathway Dr O once diagrammed for me, the pathway from the errant spark in the amygdala straight to a fight or flight bodily response and the confabulation of a reason for it, which by definition is paranoia.
It was over when it was over, and I was “only” paranoid then about why Karen wasn’t calling “to forgive me.” I caught myself at that one! I actually found 2 reasons other than “to punish me” ie because she was attending a Democratic town meeting, as she often does on Wednesday nights, or she went out to supper after visiting Joe...
It has been an exhausting week since last Wednesday. I was paranoid in the hospital, visiting Joe and at home about Karen and probably about others, though feelings and reactions I have not yet recognized as paranoid are assume to be justified and based in reality. That's the worst thing about paranoia for me: that I can't tell what is real from what is only in my mind. I recognize a real attack surely, but do not recognize a false attack, the falseness of it that is. Instead, I feel, and it is a matter of feeling, that they are equivalent, and so react equivalently, which as you may imagine, leads to big problems!
What if I had a weapon and I began to fee that someone, or Karen, were about to attack me, as I did in the elevator the other day at the hospital? You see what I am talking about. In fact, my reaction was one of flight not fight, and I feared more danger of physical attack from them than I would have caused. But if I were male and more fight prone? This is the problem of unmedicated schizophrenia and why there are so many mentally ill in jails and prisons (usually not for serious crimes, though not a few are incarcerated for assault, even murder). I do not think I personally would hurt anyone; my paranoia is not that severe. And I do take medication, which while it doesn't seem to cure it, does help it, with a prn of Haldol to add when it flares up. Most people with schizophrenia never harm anyone, only themselves, and are much more likely to be victimized. But unmedicated schizophrenia sometimes can lead to violence and I suspect when it does it is more often than not due to paranoia.
Well, it is late and I have ruminated long enough about the subject that has so concerned me recently. I am sure I will write more in days to come, but want to enjoy a few more days of blog "vacation" first. TTFN
After 7 weeks in ICU and three bouts of pneumonia, Joe has a bed and is finally being transferred to rehab at the Hospital for Special Care! As long as he doesn't spike a fever, this will happen on Monday or Tuesday of next week and we are all thrilled. I did not see him today as I am suffering from a miserable cold and could not run the risk of infecting him -- the very last thing he needs is the additional secretions brought on by a cold. That I imagine could kill him as quickly as pneumonia, or certainly bring on tribulations beyond belief. So I heard all about it third hand, but I know that Joe probably beamed and was very happy to hear the news. I certainly am, even though it will mean a more stressful drive and a longer one just to see him every other day. That part I am decidely not looking forward to. But I will figure out how to do it, I imagine, and grit my teeth and somehow get through it.
Meanwhile, Lynn is not doing anywhere near as well, has said she wants to die, even, and while I have suggested anti-depressants, careful to say they treat pain (which they do) she has not found a way to try them and assures me she is not depressed. "I just want to die because of the pain and because I can't do anything the way I used to. Old age is simply not what I was expecting," she says to justify it. (She is not suicidal, just wishes she would die soon.) But I think the pain can be treated by a doctor willing to do more than routine pain care and I think without chronic pain she could do more of what she used to enjoy. Surely she would enjoy what little she can do more than she does now, that's for certain. But I also think she IS depressed, is down in the dumps because of all this, and that ADs could treat both her pain and her depression at one time and without her knowing it. Who is to say which comes first, the pain or the depression after all? The depression certainly exacerbates pain, and pain just as assuredly exacerbates depression, so chicken or egg, they interact in any event.
But her husband holds the reins, and he keeps tight control of what doctors she sees and what medications she takes and even what she tells me about her care. I love Cy, but sometimes I really despise him. He is 87 years old and not as sharp as he used to be, but he is still controlling everything in that household with an iron hand. I do not like it one bit, never have, frankly. But it is not my place to complain or say anything, and I can simply leave if he complains too loudly about Lynn's spending or I don't like the way he controls her. So I do. Why say anything when they have a 60 year old marriage, proving it works for them!
Well, enough for now. My throat hurts and my body hurts and my nose is dripping. In the midst of cold misery, and knowing I simply have to tough it out, I expect to pass the night in a similar state, which I dread in particular. But my mood is good and my mental state not too bad, except for being overrun by the little people and subject to chronic paranoia that I need others to point out. In general, I'd say, I'm pretty much status quo. And with that, I have to sign out. I will be back after Labor Day. Peace to all and hoping you are all enjoying the summer! Pam
Update on Joe: he has had a set-back recently. After a near miraculous recovery and the news that he would be moved to a rehab hospital for weaning from the vent during the day so he could go home and have only night time nursing vent care, he developed a new pneumonia. This time it is bacterial rather than aspiration pneumonia, and with it a urinary tract infection and a blood clot in his lung. He will be on heparin to rid him slowly of the clot for a month, and strong antibiotics to cure him of the infections for a while and then we hope will again be transferred to the Hospital for Special Care, for rehab. But now we don't know where he stands in terms of coming home...He didn't really want to in the first place, being scared that something could happen that Karen and I could not handle. But the doctor told him that he would not go home until he felt comfortable about the idea, and so he calmed down a bit.
But now, with all the complications, he is down and discouraged. I can only imagine how much. The first time around he spent all his energy on getting better; refusing most visitors and outside stimulation, no TV or radio or books, just thinking and concentrating on breathing and and healing. Now, he has conceded that these stimuli may be helpful too, and is more open to distractions, though also less able to pay attention, due to the powerful drugs he is getting. I visit every other day and Karen takes the days I don't go in, that way he is covered for visitors every day and we don't get exhausted.
I am busy making jewelry and trying NOT to listen to the constant bickering and arguments of the little people, or the infernal music that plagues me again. It is not easy, but my friend and homemaker Josephine insists that I put on the TV or radio in the background, and I know that does drown them out, though if I'm trying to read it is also very distracting. But I do not even try to read these days as it simply is a trigger to put me to sleep every time. I do my reading on line, when I can, and I watch C-span and PBS for news occasionally. I can usually get through the short but informative articles in The Week, that magazine, so I know a little about what is going on in the world, but I know about nothing in depth, not the way I used to on my ambivalent miracle drug Zyprexa. I am taking a new sleep drug Remeron I think it is called, a Melatonin agonist, to push my natural sleep and circadian rhythm forward to something approximating normal. Right now, I am most alert from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m., which is absurd, as I have to go to bed right when I most want to stay up. The Remeron should help reregulate my circadian rhythms such that I will be most alert from 6 p.m. to midnight, which is what I want. (I don't need a complete rehauling in order to be alert from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Those hours are already taken up by chores and tasks I don't care as much about as the writing I do at night.) I will let you know if it works. Remeron is usually used for insomnia, but Dr O has used it for sleep phase disorders and it has worked well before, so I am hopeful now.
Otherwise, things are okay, though I am still very tired and do not have enough time alone or to myself. Karen must call 7-10 times a day if I don't visit her enough. And she ALWAYS calls during my writing hours. I should know enough NOT to pick up the phone, as I have threatened not to, but for some reason I always do, just in case it is important. Naturally, it never is. One of these days, I will learn my lesson and stop!
Here is a question for all of you: Does anyone know of any psychology professor who might want a copy of our book, possibly to teach it in a class (if it appeals and is appropriate)? I would send a promotional copy plus a letter and photo to anyone who would like a copy - the professor or teacher, if you simply send me the name and the name of the school or college and the address there. Even if you don't personally know the teacher, if you can get me the name and address, I will send a book out. Teachers of Abnormal Psychology are the best, but heads of departments are also good. Thanks to anyone who can help me out! Just email me at the address above, or use the comment section.
And that about wraps it up for this quickie update. I hope to return in September, but will continue to take this vacation time through August. Many thanks to all who keep checking in and to those who plan to return in the fall.