Category Archives: Opinions

A love letter to Gilda Radner

gilda-radner

When a child is growing up, they often look up to & hope to have a life similar to their parents, but some kids, the artistic types, find their idols within the arts community. There is one person who I have idolized since the age of 5. That person was & always will be Gilda Radner. I was able to grow up watching this silly, talented & smart girl from Detroit pave the way for those of us to follow her lead. Admittedly, I am not a comedian. I mean, I’m a very funny person, but I can’t do it on purpose, on cue. I admire that ability in those who possess it.

Gilda Susan Radner (June 28, 1946 – May 20, 1989) was an American comedian and actress, best known as one of the original cast members of the NBC sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live, for which she won an Emmy Award in 1978. (stolen from Wikipedia)

As a very young girl, the Not Ready For Prime Time Players came into my life every Saturday night beginning in 1975. I can still vividly remember that very first episode, hosted by the great George Carlin & featuring an odd, but funny Andy Kaufman. It was amazing to my young, sponge-like mind. These skits, these people, these musical artists have stuck with me ever since. Yet, Gilda always stands out to me.

It was obvious to me, even at five years old, that what I was witnessing was revolutionary. Again, Gilda was the driving force of my interest. Judy Miller….yeah I did that in my room, with my robe acting as a princess cape. That was my favorite of all her characters. She was just fearless & full of joy when she was Judy.  She had the courage to be child like, which can be really hard for people to do, but Gilda wasn’t too scared to get out there & be silly.

But, how did Gilda end up on Saturday Night Live anyway? Well, it wasn’t an easy road, she worked harder than I believe she gets credit for. There were many road blocks, including the men in the Improv/Sketch Comedy scene at the time. Some of whom she would eventually work with on SNL.

Growing up a Jewish girl in Detroit, cared for by a nanny she called Dibby, who she was VERY close to, she began her battle with weight at the age of nine, even turning to diet pills at ten years old. Gilda was very close to her father, who passed away when she was 12. He owned & managed the Seville Hotel in Detroit & often took Gilda on trips to New York, where they went to Broadway shows.  These experiences inspired something deep inside of her.

She made her acting debut in Godspell in 1972, while living in Toronto. This ultimately led her to Second City in Toronto, then to National Lampoon & eventually SNL.

I don’t want to turn this into another Wiki page, she already has one. What I would like to accomplish here is something I have never attempted. I want to honor her work & her life, from my eyes.

As a young fan, I followed every step of Gilda’s life & career. From the outside, Saturday Night Live appeared to be a dream job. This was the 70’s however, and drugs were a big part of most peoples lives on the show, but not Gilda. She was a fantastic character actress, with standouts like Roseanne Roseannadanna, Emily Litella, Lisa Loopner & Babwa Wawa.

By 1979, Gilda was appearing in a one woman show on Broadway called “Gilda, Live” It was & still is absolutely brilliant. I watch it often & still laugh. One of my all time characters that she brought to Broadway from SNL was Candy Slice. She would just lose herself in the character. I was so amazed by the level of her talent & the fact that she didn’t seem to be aware of it. I could relate to that.

Candy Slice

What Gilda really wanted in her life was love, marriage & children. This, of course, wasn’t something that was easy to come by for a girl in comedy. She dated co-star Bill Murray & then married G.E. Smith, the musical director for the show.

Then there was Gene.

gene n gilda

Gilda has said that meeting Gene Wilder was “Love at first sight” on the set of Hanky Panky, even though she was still married. She eventually got the man of her dreams. From reading her autobiography, she explains in great detail what she went through to catch him & get him to marry her. I realize that sounds kinda desperate, but it wasn’t, it was true love & she knew it. They were married in 1984 in France. Okay, maybe it was a little desperate, but who cares, the woman knew what she wanted & wasn’t afraid to do whatever it took to achieve her goal. Since her death Gene has written in detail his side of their marriage. It is sometimes surprising, heartbreaking & seemingly narcissistic on his part, but it does give the reader a glimpse into the flawed & insecure woman she sadly was. Despite all that though, Gilda did end up happy & in love with the man of her dreams, even if he was a bit cold emotionally.

Gilda was diagnosed with ovarian cancer after nearly a year of searching for a reason for the severe pain & fatigue she was suffering with. She had always wanted to be a mother & she very openly discusses her struggle to become pregnant in her book. I have read It’s Always Something more times than I can count & like the Wikipedia page I won’t go into a play by play of the text. I will say that her 2 year battle with cancer, the awareness she brought with her fight & her devastating loss to this horrible disease is, much like her career, legendary. After Gilda passed, Gene established the Gilda Radner Ovarian Detection Center at Cedars-Sinai to screen high-risk candidates (such as women of Ashkenazi Jewish descent) and run basic diagnostic tests. Because of her battle with cancer, Gilda is affecting & saving the lives of countless women.  The first Gildas Club opened in 1995, helping provide support for survivors & their families. I have volunteered with Gildas Clubs since the late 90’s, including the first & second Gildas LaughFest in Grand Rapids, MI.I am getting ready to head back there this March.

Gilda will never be forgotten, thanks to the internet & all the wonderful television and film work she has done. She has affected my life in more ways than I can account for in this blog post. She wasn’t perfect. She wasn’t what some considered to be “classically beautiful” (though I think she was very beautiful). What I believe made Gilda so special was her ability to find the funny in every situation, the  way she would just shrug it off & say “It’s always something”. She was talented far beyond her comedy beginnings. She may not have made the best choices in roles, but she based her decisions in her personal happiness. In her private time she struggled a great deal with insecurity & defeatism. In the end though, she left a permanent mark on this world & I am forever grateful.

My greatest hope is that Gilda knew how special, how loved, how amazing she was. She was an icon & I’d like to believe that she will live on by continuing to make people laugh for generations to come.

Thank you Gilda, for making the world brighter with your presence, your humor, your love & your beauty. You changed everything!

Please check out the links to learn more or to relive the memories of Gilda.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gilda_Radner

http://gildasclubqc.org/about-us/who-was-gilda/

http://www.amazon.com/Its-Always-Something-Twentieth-Anniversary/dp/1439148864

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On the subject of marriage & children

 

I feel I must preface this post due to the possible backlash from those who may read this the wrong way. This is my bog. They are my stories, my feelings. I am not talking about anyone else specifically unless I say I am!

Why don’t more people decide what would be best for their children before they get pregnant? I’ve never been able to figure that out. It’s as if they just want to spawn, regardless of their personal circumstances, the person they choose to have a child with or their financial situation.

Take a look around almost anywhere you go these days & you’ll see frustrated mothers with kids at every turn. They scream at & beat on them at the grocery store. They allow them to run around outside without shoes, let alone supervision. I’ll never understand people when it comes to their practices of having/raising children or of multiple marriages.

That being said….I haven’t even touched on my issues where these topics are concerned.

When it comes to marriage, mine wasn’t so much a conscious choice as not becoming a mother was. I, like many people in America, come from a broken family, well multiple broken families. My father alone has been married to 4 women. It’s as if he never learned how to date. I do respect his undying belief in love, but come on…4 wives? My mom is a completely different story of choosing the wrong men & I am NOT in the mood to get into that this morning.

So, what I did was purposely date boys/guys/men who either didn’t believe in marriage at all or who had serious commitment & other issues. That way, I knew I would never have to worry about going down that road. Okay, so maybe that’s a cop out. I was completely afraid of marriage, or any serious relationships for that matter. I have never been in a relationship longer than 2 1/2 years. Talk about fear of commitment.

Where having a child is concerned, that story is a little more confusing, a little sadder. I wasn’t that child who dreamed of being a mommy. As I got older though, I did start to think that it would be wonderful, to create a life inside you & then help guide them to become the adult they were meant to be. That being said….the very thought scared me beyond words. Being responsible for another humans life? Shaping & guiding them? Well…..I was sure to screw that up! How could I live with myself knowing that I was responsible for destroying someones life just because they were born of me. I went down that road, but as the child.

As I’ve gotten older, the want to be a mother grew stronger, as did wrong choices in men. Not a single guy I dated would even discuss the idea of having a child. Then again, looking back, I would have been a moron to have a kid with some of those assholes! Once the feeling started inside me, it never actually went away.

Sadly, time makes it more difficult to carry a baby & I’m not really sure I’d want to be that old mom. Besides that, obviously if you read my blog you know, I’m still not in the proper mental state to have a child.

I guess some people just aren’t meant to have children of their own. However, if they’re lucky, they still get to be surrounded by amazing children of other people & make an impact. There may also be the chance to become the step-mom to an amazing boy someday….we’ll see.

 

Nobody’s Wife or Mother & that’s just fine ❤

 

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Girl, Interrupted

 

When you fill your time reading multiple books & watching many movies on the subject of loony bins, you run the risk of believing you belong locked inside one. Sometimes you have to be careful to pay attention to the line between reality & fiction. Granted, some of the stories I have read & watched are in fact based on true stories, which makes it that much more frightening in my anxiety & depression filled mind.
Recently, I have watched Girl, Interrupted repeatedly. If you ask me why, my answer would be one of uncertainty. It just feels like something I want & need in my life. I also love the story & the acting. What I love the most about the story though, is that it is adapted from the story of Susanna Kaysen. The more I read about her, the more fascinated I become with her. It took her into the 90’s to release Girl, Interrupted, even though the story actually happened in the late 60’s. That gives me a great deal of hope in regards to having my book published once I have it finished.
That’s the problem, isn’t it? My finishing it. I have given that a great deal of thought recently. What I have come up with is the fact that many of the stories I am reliving in the retelling were so painful the 1st time, I’m beginning to feel the same pain during the writing process. This is a contributing factor to my worsening depression. That being said, I will not stop writing. I will not give up my dream, even if I am aware that the cards are stacked against me. The literary world is not an easy one to break into these days.
I’m working on getting out of my way. It’s not easy, but if I’ve survived myself this long, I should be able to do anything!

 

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Last of me

Things have been not been easy for me most of my life, so I’m used to struggling & focusing on survival, but I believe that I am in the midst of the greatest & most challenging fight of my life at the moment. I’m not afraid, I’m a fighter & I ALWAYS get up when I fall or get knocked down.

As I struggle to release myself from the grips of Zoloft, it has been a very difficult process. With every day that passes I realize that I can not & hopefully will not ever poison my body with psychotropic drugs again! What a nightmare experience this has been. All I wanted was to feel better, not feel like I was losing my mind, allowing my entire life to nearly be destroyed beyond repair, have friends who have had to cut me out of their lives until I can get away from this nightmare, tarnishing my hard earned reputation, being deemed unemployable in my industry…..it breaks my heart.

Today I began dropping my daily dosage to 25mg. I started at 100mg, which as I mentioned in an earlier blog, was bumped up from 50mg after a year because it had stopped working effectively. I realize now that this drug never really helped me, in fact, it stole my personality, my creativity, my energy, my soul, the entire time I have taken it. Tapering off is always the best idea with these drugs, but I can’t lie, all I want to do is throw the rest of what I have in the trash & battle the extreme withdrawal symptoms. That is a stupid idea, so instead I fight to taper off slowly. I have done a 50% drop in dosage every ten days. So far, I’m not struggling with the severe side effects, but I am aware that some form of hell awaits me 1o days from now when I stop taking them completely. I don’t care! As you can tell, I’m counting the days & will have some sort of a celebration when this is behind me.

The video I posted at the top of this blog is a song by Cher that just BLEW ME AWAY when I heard it for the first time about a half hour ago. Going through this tough time, I admit I spend a lot of time at home, alone. I don’t want to subject people to my mood swings & exhaustion. Besides, I don’t really have the money necessary to go out regularly. Anyway, I digress. As I was sitting home tonight, I watched two movies, back to back. First up was Megamind. I am pretty sure that I avoided watching this movie for so long for one specific reason…it reminds me of the event I coordinated when I first moved to Los Angeles for a new job that I was SO excited for. As most of my readers know, I have lost that job, have had a difficult time recovering from that loss & have also not been able to find steady employment since. I am glad that I finally broke down & watched it, because it was a really wonderful movie! What can I say, I still dig a good animated flick.

Second on my list tonight was Burlesque. I never really wanted to see this movie, because it appeared to be a bit of a rip off of a few other musical films that have come along in the past 10 or so years. I was right in my assumption. This movie is basically just a mix of Showgirls, Cabaret (including a role played by Alan Cumming, from an excellent Broadway revival in 1998) & Chicago. It’s a cheesy movie, indeed, but I have to admit that I don’t hate it. The funny thing is, as soon as this number was halfway through, as I was crying from the emotion that it brought up in me, I paused the movie, grabbed my laptop & began to write. This song inspired me, it reminded me that I may be down, but am by no means out! I just had to get these words out of my head, had to express myself creatively, as a reminder to myself that I do, in fact, still have some sort of talent & that I MUST continue to follow my dream, no matter the cost. So I write.

I realize that my move to Los Angeles was not an easy one. I took a huge risk in walking away from my comfort zone to pursue my passion. I have many times considered packing it in & moving back to Detroit. Every time that happens though, I am reminded why I came here, what is NOT waiting for me back in Detroit & what I must do to look myself in the mirror every day. I have to stay. I have to fight. I have to succeed. I’ll never forgive myself if I just give this up, like I’ve with most other things in my life so far. Now is the time to break that cycle & tap into my drive, my motivation, my desire & need to create art, in whatever form it comes out of me. I need to finish what I started for once in my life.

So, I guess what I’m trying to say, in a VERY roundabout & scattered way is……

…….You haven’t seen the last of me!

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Aftermath

While you may never expect to find yourself locked down in a mental institution, nobody can prepare you for what happens next.  I spent most of my time at Gateway thinking about getting home, about the cats & how worried & confused they had to be, my computer, my bed, my shower, my clothes, where I was gonna get my rent money from, etc. Yet, when it was time to get out of the cab that brought me home, I was once again filled with all the worry I left in this place….money, work, when I’d be able to eat again. Nothing went away, except a few days of my life. Somehow I had thought that this would be a cleansing of sorts for me, that I would walk out of the hospital healthier & stronger than when I walked in.

When I got into the apartment, I must admit that it was awesome to see the cats. They were as happy as dogs would be to see me. I’m sure it was just so I would give them the wet food they’d gone without for the past few days. Whatever the reason, they made me smile & cry at the same time, the innocent victims of my meltdown. Within 5 minutes, everything was normal & fine for them, but not so much for me. I was sure the first thing I would want to do was take a shower, but in all actuality, it took another few days to bring myself to do that. I did at least change my clothes. I had to make a plan to pick up my car in Culver City, which involved 2 buses & a two hour total trip there & back. Even my car felt weird, different. Maybe it was just me. I’m sure it was me, because everything looked & felt weird to me that first day home.

I came home Friday & fought my way through the weekend, hiding for those three days from the world, isolating once again. Starting Monday I did make it a point to go out & do something with a friend every day. It was difficult, but in the end I’m glad I did it. I went to lunch & hiking in the canyons while talking about my fears with a good friend. I went to see a live show & a jazz lounge with another friend & didn’t really talk about my experience at all. I prefer it that way with her. Then on the third day, a sweet, dear friend came over, we went out to lunch, came back here, got baked & watched a movie, laughing the whole time. That was great, very healing!  Later in the evening, after a nice nap, we went to see a friend of mines band play at the Viper Room. Amazingly, when we got there, Prince was there. That was an amazing moment & one that made me glad I forced myself to leave the apartment that night. Unfortunately, we left before my friends band came on. We were both so tired, it just wasn’t in us. I even went on a job interview Thursday morning & feel pretty confident about how it went, but learned a long time ago to be optimistic without expectation. I know I’m qualified, but it’s okay if they go with someone else. I’ll keep searching for what fits me.

At the same time I began going to Hollywood Mental Health, which is a lot like Team Mental Health in Detroit, only on a larger scale. It could just be me & my personality that brings the good out in the staff, but I found myself comfortable there, not afraid as I normally would be. I really like my case worker & my psychiatrist, even if I don’t agree with her treatment plan. I trust them.

On Tuesday, I ended up having to spend 5 hours there. It always takes that long for an intake. The only bummer was that I didn’t eat before I went in at 8am, so I was starving most of the time. It could have been worse. I could have been one of the old dudes passed out on the sofa’s in the waiting area. I could have been the screaming girl in tears insisting on seeing a supervisor, because “everybody here treats us like shit”, I could have been any one of these people, but luckily, I’m me, the good & the bad. I’ll take that any day over what I see in these environments.

I have asked myself what have I gained from this experience & it’s pretty hard to nail one specific thing down. I think I learned that having a mental disorder/illness isn’t the taboo that it is in my mind. Knowing this about myself makes me feel broken, tarnished, damaged. Then again, who of us isn’t damaged in one way or another? Mainly, I have taken from this experience that it’s time to get off all these drugs that cloud my mind, see if they are really helping me, or if they are altering me the wrong way & being healthy & active is the right choice. This is the direction I am heading in. It’s not gonna be easy, nothing for me that is worth having ever is, but I know in my soul it will be worth it. I can make it!

Everything is different to me know. The world outside feels & looks different. My belief in myself is different, stronger. I realize that I’m not as crazy as I thought I was, which was a HUGE relief! I am putting my energy into my creativity. I realize now that I need a creative outlet to not only survive, but to thrive. That is my goal. I will say yes to every creative impulse I have, within reason, of course. This is my time, my shot….

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Looney Binz ‘R Us

When I woke up that first morning at Gateway, after only a few hours of restless sleep, I could feel immediately this was a bad idea. The fear began to immediately kick in….What if I get stuck in here long-term? What if they only see in me what they want to see & not whats really going on with me? What if they dope me up so much I end up not even caring or fighting anymore?

As I lay on the cement twin bed they provided me with, roomed with three other women, I was alarmed by the sound of the food cart being dragged down the fluorescent lighted hall. That’s when really began to feel real to me & I started to take it all in a bit more. Seeing the other patients in their varying states of consciousness saddened & frightened me equally. They saddened me because just knowing that people are struggling so badly mentally, at all ages, only to find themselves in a locked mental ward, which is actually more like a minimum security prison than a mental hospital. This is where it got frightening…no freedom, locked doors, WAY too much down time & only a total of an hour outside a day. It’s no wonder there people get stuck in the system & have such a difficult time outside those locked doors. Needless to say, I did a lot of pacing, and not sleeping most of my time away like the rest of the patients.

To me they just seemed so defeated. As if they just gave up on fighting for sanity. It was as if they enjoyed being locked inside, unlike myself. It’s a personal nightmare of mine. I observed them in complete silence most of that first day. You never know when you may do or say the wrong thing & set one of these women off. I wasn’t in the mood for a confrontation. They knew I didn’t belong there, but wanted to believe that I did, or that they actually had a shot of what I still have the ability to achieve. Every time they asked me if I was leaving early, their next sentence would be….”that’s what they say to all of us”. Little did they know that I truly was in there over a mistake, a misunderstood statement. I think there was a lot of surprise floating around that place about how calm I stayed through it all. I’m not an idiot! If I start getting all demanding, angry or pushy, they could surely justify keeping me locked down for longer & I wasn’t having any of it.

There is something that I want to make very clear. I do not regret that I had this time to reflect on my life & see what it is exactly that I’m doing wrong. I watched everything, everyone…..I just had to. I have to make sure that I get my emotional & mental issues under control, so I don’t end up back in this place for a real reason.

After breakfast, which consisted of a 4oz container of milk, single serving bowl/cup of Cheerio’s & maybe some eggs & a bagel, I was shuffled off to my evaluation meetings with my case worker, therapist & eventually psychiatrist. It all happened very quickly, which I appreciated. Unfortunately, while they did all agree that I am not a danger to myself & don’t belong in that facility, they had to keep me one more night & release me the next morning.

There was no group therapy, no one-on-one therapy, nothing but med pass, sleep, meals  & a little outside time. No wonder they’re so depressed, these women. There was one in particular, who’s names I will not use. She was from England & had come to the states to look for her grown children, with whom she’d lost touch. In the end, before she was picked up by the cops, she was at the home of a certain celebrity, throwing rocks over the walls at the staff, insisting they let her in, because (in her mind) she was in a relationship with this man. It truly is sad, because she was a sweet little British woman.

Like I said, my interaction with the patients was limited. My friends inside were the staff. These were the people I could relate to & we spoke most of the time I was locked up before being sent  home via taxi, leaving me to later in the evening take the bus to Culver City to retrieve my car & drive back home.

I am still have bad withdrawal symptoms & that’s okay, I know I can get through it, at home, not in a locked mental ward.

I wish the staff & patients at Gateway much health & success. I won’t forget you, even though we only spent a short time together.

Tomorrows entry: After Care through Los Angeles County

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5150

For years, the first thing that came to mind when I heard or read that number was the album 5150 by Van Halen. I guess if I think about it, I have known for quite some time that this number stood for a 72 hour psych hold due to concern of people who may be a suicidal threat to themselves or a threat to others. What I can say is that I never thought I would associate it with myself or my life experience. That all changed last week.

I have sought medication treatment for my anxiety & personality problems for several years now. Sadly, of the four I have tried so far, not one has worked. They have, however, given me many not-so-fun side effects that include weight gain, loss of orgasm or even much interest in sex at all, dry mouth, insecurity & a certain amount of shame for even taking such drugs. The stigma of mental illness is something that I can not seem to reconcile myself with. I consider myself to be a highly intelligent, if not highly educated, person. Most roadblocks that have been thrown my way throughout my life I have easily been able to either jump over, walk around or just knock down as I walked through it. This is not the case with my struggle with anxiety. I have written extensively about my anxiety in the past, so I’m not gonna rehash it here. What I do want to focus on in this particular blog post is the results of adverse reactions to psychotropic drugs, the pain & suffering involved with weaning off of these drugs & strange situations one may find themselves in as a result of isolation, confusion & fear.

For the past year I have been taking Zoloft in an effort to curb my anxiety & panic issues. I believed for a while that this medication was helping me. Six weeks ago, I realized that with my situation in Los Angeles quickly deteriorating, something else was off, so I made a visit to a doctor I found on the internet. His determination, in a most non-medical term, was that I was suffering from the “Prozac Poop-Out” as he called it. His suggestion was for me to up my daily dose of Zoloft to 100mg from 50mg. To me, in the moment, that seemed justifiable. Not even considering the consequences, I agreed to this plan & began doubling my dose immediately. It didn’t take more than a day or so for me to notice the difference, the problems, the crippling fear, the severe mood swings. My rationale was to wait it out & see if once the higher dose got into my system, maybe the side effect symptoms would dissipate. Well, they didn’t. What happened next is something that I never would have been able to admit or ever write about until now. I have come to a certain peace within myself & an understanding that I have an issue, it is mental, but it is still, whether I like it or not, an illness.

Here is my 5150 experience~

I have always had a way of finding free or inexpensive services, especially when it comes to mental health services. I am very grateful for that ability. I also believe it has a lot to do with my strong need to be well. I will stop at nothing to get the very best out of the life I have been given a chance to live. I fight my illness, always have. I don’t like it one bit. Imagine if you can, loving something so completely that to be without out it causes you an ache to your very soul. This is how I feel about my desire & almost constant need to travel, either for work or for pleasure. Although, I admit, I haven’t been doing much pleasure traveling in quite some time. I haven’t left Los Angeles in six months now, which in itself is usually a sign that something is wrong. I don’t enjoy sitting around any one place for that long, without a break. Okay, I’m getting off track here, too much back story, not enough relevance.

After my experience with the doctor who doubled my Zoloft & then refused to see me when the side effect symptoms began taking over my life because I was unable to pay for the visit, I needed to dig deeper for help & it had to be immediate. Don’t you just love that? A doctor can alter your life, your mind & your ability to care for yourself with a medication, but they can’t be bothered to see you for an emergency follow up due to your inability to pay. Oh, how I love being American! When I ran into this roadblock, I scoured the internet for mental health services in the area & came up with Exodus Mental Health Urgent Care. It sounded perfect to me. Finally, a place where I can explain what is going on in my mind & they will help me make it better. YAY! My euphoria was short lived when the Nurse Practitioner informed me, after about an hour of being there, that she didn’t feel comfortable sending me home, as she thought I may harm myself. As she was saying these words she also informed me that this was to take place immediately. In that moment I was the property of Los Angeles County Mental Health Services for at least 72 hours, or so they thought!

I have never had a suicidal thought in my life. I have too much to live for, mainly me & my desire to have as many good years on this planet as I can. I refuse to allow my life to be one entirely made up of tragedy & failure. This is why I fight. This is why I get right back up every time I fall down. Needless to say, I was not too excited to hear those words coming out of Erins mouth. I admit that I made a terrible mistake during my conversation with her. In explaining the adverse side effects caused by the Zoloft, I explained something that was happening when I would go outside for a cigarette. I would just be standing there, on the balcony ledge, staring up at the beautiful Griffith Park Observatory & suddenly I would get these frightening thoughts that I was going to fall off the balcony & die. Never did I say jump or having a desire to jump. It was all based in fear. That statement is what caused me to be locked down. It is frustrating when someone takes your words out of context, especially when your freedom is at risk & your mental capacity is questioned like never before. I felt fear, frustration & at the same time complete defeat. Let me explain why I chose that word. I had given up control of my inner battle to the “professionals”. I figured “screw it, I’m not doing such a great job managing my anxiety symptoms, I’ll take the help being offered me”. I made a conscious choice to give in to the resources given to me. I was exhausted & could really use the help of a support system. Seeing that every member of my close knit support system is in Detroit, I needed to trust these strangers. It was not easy, but they gave me drugs to make sure it was much easier, as I slept away much of my first day locked down, before being transferred at 3am to Gateway Mental Hospital.  This was the second sign that things were not going the way I had hoped walking into that facility that morning.

I spent 18 hours of my initial lock down in a reclining LazyBoy chair, covered in a blanket, surrounded by severely mentally ill people, as well as homeless people who were in a bad way, needing to be fed, showered, given some meds & a comfy place to sleep for the night. It wasn’t frightening, though it was annoying at times. I guess I was more flattered than annoyed at the male nurse who hit on me during his ENTIRE 8 hour shift. I’m pretty sure that’s unethical, but it was flattering, so whatever. He gave me special privileges not given to the others, such as smoking more & for longer periods of time, where I would just lay on my back on the round table in their smoking courtyard, enjoying the warmth & the beauty of the sky above me. Does any of this sound like it’s coming from a woman who is a danger to herself? I digress…

I am guessing on my timeline, as this weaning off Zoloft, as well as the medications I still have in my system from lock down have clouded my short term memory a bit. It was around 2pm that I was given the Risperdal & Ativan. Needless to say, I was out for around 6 hours. There was no real explanation as to why I was taking the Risperdal, other than to say it was an Anti-Pyschotic (which I was then reassured I wasn’t….duh!) & helped to quiet irrational thoughts. Well, it certainly did it’s job! When I woke up after dark, there was an entirely new & not nearly as friendly group of staffers. The night people do not have the people skills that the day staff did & I was pretty troubled when I woke up to see all new people. The fact that they were unwilling to speak with me, except in short, snippy comments to anything I attempted to ask them. My only choice was to go back to sleep. They informed me that I was to be leaving soon for Gateway at 10pm. I was awakened at 3am & expected to just jump up, climb up on the ambulance gurney (that’s right, an ambulance ride, care of the county) & be strapped down for “safety”. I was really out of it, still a bit woozy from the drugs they gave me, the Zoloft side effects & having just been woken up to leave. It was a quiet & not too long ambulance ride across town. When I arrived at Gateway at 3:30am, I was expected to sit down for an intake meeting & answer all sorts of questions. It was annoying, exhausting, repetitive & the room literally smelled like shit. (I later learned that the staff restroom was out of order & that was where the smell was coming from) After all my belongings were inventoried & taken from me, dozens of papers being shoved in front of me for my signature without any explanation, it was after 4am & time for me to get a few hours sleep. I was shown to my room, where the other 3 women inhabiting it were obviously sleeping on their twin beds. The room was one of three in the ward. The other two rooms only had two beds & also came with their own bathrooms. I wasn’t so lucky, given the time of night I arrived….whatever, just let me sleep already, damn! As I lay down on the small bed that would be my home, it felt as though I was laying on a cold cement slab. Not only did they leave the ward chilly at all times, but we were only provided one small, thin blanket to cover us while we slept. I was told I could ask for another for more warmth the next morning. I still don’t understnad why that lady couldn’t just go get me one. It was a very uncomfortable few hours sleep & I was in for a different kind of awakening the following morning…..the patients.

Come back again tomorrow for the second part of this stories….Gateway Hospital (or as I like to call it now “Gated, Locked Down Looney Bin”)

For now….it’s time for me to sleep. The sleeping pill I was given by my new Psychiatrist is kicking in & I look forward to a full nights sleep for the first time in over a year.

Until the next installment, my friends…….<3

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