Sunday, March 29, 2009

Why is it so hard to get into a decent asylum these days???

Welcome, Welcome one and all, to my first posting by a guest blogger. Her name is Jessica Cowles-Rios. She is a talented writer and just a bit zany- as you will soon discover. Crazy or crazy brilliant is the question...

I need a vacation. Boy, do I need a vacation. I will have had one day off between March 16 and April 3, and that day was last Sunday. I’m just a little burned out. Obviously my plan to get to Europe via pyramid scheme didn’t pan out as I had planned, but I’m not a girl to get dissuaded that easily. So yesterday, I was sitting at my desk (not working again and as usual) brainstorming ideas on how I can get away from it all with close to no funds or vacation time left. Hmmm, this one is a toughie but I’m a creative, resourceful girl who can think outside the box, so I wasn’t worried. It wasn’t like time was a factor. I had 8-10 hours to ponder the problem. All of a sudden, it came to me! A MENTAL INSTITUTION! Oh it was perfect in every way. The cost was totally covered. I have health insurance and good health insurance too! I also have short term disability insurance so I would actually be getting PAID to be there. Oh I was so proud of myself. I immediately started fantasizing about my vacation. Talk about relaxing and getting away from it all! I pictured myself ensconced in the security and peace that can only be found in an insane asylum. I saw myself standing peacefully on the meds line with my little paper pill cup, waiting serenely for my turn for those wonderful mind altering drugs that make me forgot everything I worry about. Wonderful soft elevator music wafting softly all around, comforting my troubled mind. Nothing like an all instrumental of “Afternoon Delight” to bring peace. After meds, I shuffle along in my suicide gown and paper slippers off to the rec. room to relax until the drugs kick in. I imagined playing a relaxing game of checkers against myself and then catching me cheating and throwing the board across the room in a fit of rage. It wouldn’t be a problem though. No one would judge me. The meds just hadn’t had a chance to work yet. That’s all anyone would think. Once I was good and wasted on my psychotropic drugs, I would stumble over to a chair by the window and stare blankly out at the beautiful landscape just outside. Yes, maybe I drool some. Yes, maybe I rock some- but who cares? That’s the beauty of the insane asylum. Anything goes! Once I’m coherent enough to move--it’s off to arts and crafts with Popsicle sticks and cotton balls. Oh what fun! Then its time for group. I will sit quietly and listen to everyone else talk and nod empathetically. I will add nothing to the conversation. I am not there to work, I’m there to relax. I have no desire to work out any demons or come to terms with my childhood. That sounds like too much effort. After group, dinner, then I take a sleeping pill and retire to my padded room where I can curl up like a cat in a corner and sleep like a newborn baby until morning, when I get to do it all over again! Sounds like pure heaven doesn’t it? I know. I thought so too!! I’m thinking that the idea place would be along the lines of the facility in ‘One Flew Over the Cookoo’s Nest’. The accommodations seem ideal. Yes, there was Nurse Ratchet, BUT she really wasn’t that bad if you just followed the rules and I would be all about goose-stepping to the rules, so we would get along just fine if I were to run into someone with a personality like hers.
Now I had my perfect vacation idea, but there was the matter of finding such a place. Never being in the market for an insane asylum, I didn’t have much to go on. Again, I am a resourceful gal so I went to the yellow pages online and put in my zip code and searched “mental health facilities”. I got three pages of results and printed them all out.(Yes, I’m still at work.) A lot of the residential places were for people with eating disorders and drug problems. Those were out of the question. That sounded too much like work. This vacation is about relaxation, not bettering myself. I didn’t find anything at all on the list that mentioned “mental institution or insane asylum.” I did, however, find some referral services. I excitedly called the first one and asked point blank, “Where is the closest insane asylum in my area.” Silence. After a long pause, a very terse voice told me, “there are only 2 state run psych hospitals, or “insane asylums” as you put it, in our state and they are pretty hard to get into. (Quick FYI, people in the mental health field do NOT find the term “insane asylum” politically correct). So I asked, “When you say ‘pretty hard’ to get in, do you mean that I would have to do something really crazy to be considered for admittance?” (in the tone of voice that I might ask a club promoter what I could do to get into the newest hottest night club in town) “Like what is the minimum that I could do to prove that I belong? Could I threaten to kill myself or would I need to actually attempt suicide?” She again, quite tersely, informed me that neither of those things would even come close to getting me in. Well, I was tired of the run around so I cut to the chase. I asked “Ok, so you tell me what I have to do. Do I need to throw feces around and talk to people who don’t exist? Just between me you and the lamp-post, I would prefer to leave fecal matter out, because quite frankly, I find it kind of disgusting and that would only be as a last resort and then ONLY if I were wearing a hazmat suit” Apparently, she was growing tired of the conversation and she told me that simply by virtue of the fact that I was coherent enough to be having this phone conversation, automatically disqualified my admittance. Well this was certainly not the news I was looking for. I clearly was not going to get satisfaction from this unhelpful woman, so I thanked her for nothing and called the next referral service on my list. This time, I got a much more helpful man on the phone and he told me that due to state cuts, there were very few insane asy…er, state mental health residential facilities anymore. He told me that if I had insurance then I could go to the emergency department of a hospital that has a psych wing and they would decide if I needed to be an inpatient or be released and referred to outpatient services. Blah, blah, blah. None of that sounds even remotely like my fantasy of rec. rooms, padded cells and meds lines while wearing a comfy suicide suit. Spending a month in a hospital psych ward just doesn’t have the same romantic ring to it. *Sigh* Oh well, it’s back to the drawing board, but I am not giving up. I WILL have my vacation. I just need to come up with another brilliant plan. I will keep you posted.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Letter to graduate heading to college

Dear Kelly,
When I was eighteen I wished I knew so much more. The world was a big scary place filled with tons and tons of scary people. Who was I? What in the world was I going to do now? How was I supposed to get through every day? It’s really kind of mean the way the world just expects us to cope with everything just because we’re a certain age.
Over the years I have figured a few things out. Actually , I figured them out, forgot them and had to relearn them a few times over. So I thought if I could share my viewpoint with you maybe some things just might make a little more sense sooner. I believe you should always share what you learn just in case you might help someone else.
The following are maybe only true in my mind. Feel free to edit, interpret or ignore.
1. Every one and every situation has value to you. Look for it.
2. No one has power over you unless you give it to them. YOU CHOOSE to be offended, insulted, hurt, to feel inferior to be manipulated. You can choose not to feel insulted, to know you are never inferior, to not allow someone to manipulate you. It is always your decision. You can’t always choose the situation, you can choose your reaction.
3. It is ok if someone believes something that you don’t. It doesn’t make what you believe less valid. Try to understand why they believe what they believe and learn from them. It is your choice what you believe.
4. Be a sponge. Look, listen and learn wherever you are, whoever you’re with. You can learn so much just watching people’s faces, how they speak, how they react and how they treat others.
5. Don’t say negative things about yourself or to yourself. There’s no point, there is no value in it. Furthermore people believe what you tell them about yourself. ( I currently believe your forehead is too big. I didn’t before you pointed it out to me- go figure?)
6. Live in the truth. Everyone lies once in a while. Never make a habit of it. People lie because they think a lie will be or is easier than the truth. It’s not. Once the truth is “out” it can’t get any worse. So, it’s only as hard as it simply is. (I quite often use the phrase- “it is what it is“) A lie, however, requires much work. You have to keep track of it. Quite often more lies are needed to sustain the first. Eventually you have to lie to yourself just to live with yourself. I have literally, more than once, seen people’s lives ruined by lies. Most often it’s the ones they tell themselves that do the most damage. It’s a very sad thing. If nothing else, be honest with yourself. Live your life in the truth. It’s ok to be less than perfect but it takes guts to be honest.
7. Your ego needs a healthy diet and regular exercise. Build a good, healthy ego. Too many people concentrate on what they are not. Sometimes they spend an awful lot of time thing about their shortcomings. This is dangerous! There is no positive value to this and it wastes time. It creates negativity. Eventually this behavior inspires us to think other negative thoughts like- who’s to blame for your shortcomings, why you can’t do such and such, etc. etc. Wasted time and wasted effort. If you are honest and straightforward with yourself you can recognize and evaluate and enjoy all the facets of your personality. (Maybe you have a forehead the size of Texas. So what? Really- So what??? I bet no one notices if you don’t tell them. Or possibly you could rent out space on your forehead for advertising and make money to pay for college.) My point is, you aren’t really being honest with yourself when all you think about is “bad stuff”, honest is -”yeah, my ass is larger than Jennifer’s but I am not Jennifer, this is my ass and I either need to change it or like it. Furthermore the size of my ass really doesn’t change anything or actually matter- I still have to breathe in and out all day long, today , tomorrow and the next day and my large ass isn’t going to get me a better grade and if it gets me a better job than I probably don’t want that job.” Point being, back to the whole breathing in and out, day after day thing- isn’t it better and more honest to concentrate on the fortunate aspects of your life? You should tell yourself on a regular basis all the good things about yourself. Choose to enjoy yourself and be grateful for who your are. While you’re at it -tell other people the good things they might not see about themselves.
8. It is always your right to ask to be treated with respect. Sometimes you run into bullies. Sometimes they are just bullies because people let them be bullies. If someone is treating you in a way that makes you feel bad you owe it to yourself to deal with it. Be straight forward and polite but firm, and tell that person that they are being rude, etc and that it is not acceptable to you. They will respect you. They will most likely back down. They may be embarrassed. They may deny their behavior. Who cares! You addressed the situation so you can feel good about yourself. If you don’t handle the situation all that results is that you feel bad towards yourself, their bad behavior continues and probably continues on to someone else after you.
9. Standards are good. They give you something to strive for. Know when to dump them. I have a friend who used to tell everyone how particular she was about keeping her house clean. She didn’t know it but it made me feel bad because it wasn’t my highest priority. In being honest with myself, I had to admit that I didn’t have the luxury of feeling bad about it because taking care of the sick people in my family was more important and I was too human to be able to do everything, I had to let the clean house standard slide. Funny thing was (or actually rather sad thing ) is that same friend is now going through an awful divorce, working all the time and fully admits her house is a wreck and there is nothing she can do about it because she is only human. Life has a way of teaching us all the things we need to learn. Because I remember how bad I felt- I try really hard not to put my standards out there for other people to judge themselves by.
10. Life changes all the time. Remember I said I had to relearn a lot of these things over and over? All of these statements are easier to remember and easier to live by when life is going great. SSOOOooo much harder when things are tough! It is hard to remain positive when times are bad. It’s hard to think happy thoughts and love all the time. You will from time to time indulge in negativity. You are only human- give yourself a break!! If you were already perfect what would you have to work towards? Yuk! BE HONEST, You are a great person, just the way you are, large forehead and all and we are all better because we have you and your forehead in our lives.
Ps. I spent years, I mean years, thinking that I must wear bangs because when I was little I had chicken pox and have a divot in my forehead right between my eyebrows. One day a girl I knew said “can I see your forehead?” So I let her and she said it looked fine. She said it was nice. Not gorgeous, just nice. I have not had bangs since. I am free. I don’t even care that I am getting frown lines- I will not, I refuse to cover my forehead- unless I choose to, of course. Good God! Why do we think about these things so much!?
Anyhow, I think you are a great person with a lot to give to the world. Have a great year and every year after!

I regret to inform you

Dear Staff, Friends and Co-Workers.
It is with deepest regret that I inform you I will not be able to join you at work today. I am currently in my basement, under the stairs adjacent to a northwest, southeast wall for fear of a wandering tornado. I have the phone in one hand with 911 on speed dial and a fire extinguisher in the other. I am wearing rubber-sole shoes in the event of a lightning strike, a swimsuit and life preserver in the event of a flood and a warm parka in case of sudden winter weather.
Don’t worry I have packed a few supplies. I have a gallon of fresh water, a six pack and a box of crackers- (good for munchies, hangovers and morning sickness). I have a pipe wrench in case of burglary or failing pipes.
However, could you please send over a bottle of Paxil, a bag of maxi pads and a priest who is familiar with the last rites?
With sincere gratitude,
Christine Mikowski

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

In regards to Vicadin, Jessica.

A new aquaintence of mine recently made a comment that brought to mind one of those subjects that rattle around in my brain and never really leaves. She wondered what all the fuss about using vicadin to relieve mental pain was about. She's ok with the plan. Pain killer+ mental pain. Seems like a simple equasion. I can't argue the logic.
Now I am not a big pill popper. Not that I wouldn't be, it's just that my personal pharmacy isn't well stocked. I do keep my big wigs around for emergencies, long past the expiration date listed on the label. Some people have flashlights and extra batteries. I can't find my flashlights when I need them and the batteries are always the wrong size. But, But, I say, I have Darvocet and it's generic equivalent for when I over do on the dusting or laundry or something. I have 1/2 of a bottle of zoloft that a friend donated to me when she heard about the amazing transformation that starts about three days before my period. I have the medication that the doctor actually prescribed for that condition as well. Not that I don't have limits. When I forget what they were prescribed for and what effect they have- I flush them. (This always brings back the sad memory of the personal home health aide flushing away my dad's really impressive artillery after his passing. I had the urge to reach in after them, I admit.)
But, I digress, because what I really wanted to share was the story I read about a man's conspiracy theory. If you know anything about conspiracy theories you know they are all true. All of them, absolutely. The more unbelievable they are the more you know you can trust them.
This particular gentleman's theory was a gem. He was from farming country. Crop dusting was a fairly common way to control pests. Now at this point you may think this is a story about a man who believes pesticides are the root cause of all medical malady. No, this is of much more serious consequence. Mr. Gentleman believes the government was paying these crop dusters to fly over our food sources and spray them with a form of anti- depressant. I guess so we would stop complaining about taxes and such. Now I don't know anything more. I stopped recording any more information. I don't know what he thought the end result would be. I don't know if he had a plan to stop this evil plot. Nope, all done.
In my ears I can only hear the gentle buzzing of bee's and birds, or my blood pressure. In my mind's eye I see pretty twin engine planes (and they are always yellow) twirling in circles in the sky. There I am standing in my yard with my arms raised to the sky. RAIN DOWN, RAIN DOWN ON ME, I say. If only, if only we could be so lucky!
That little tid-bit has been with me, rolling around in the corners of my brain like one of those small rubber balls my kids bring home from birthday parties that bounce twenty feet in the air before disappearing forever. That little tid bit probably replaced some important piece of information like how to ammortize my car loan. Or, where I put my child's finger prints and birth certificate. I am good with it, though, that small little story I tell myself makes me smile. A sad little- if only -smile.