At the time I was working at a residential mental health facility. I was trying to get experience so that I could move up to advocacy work, I wanted to by a lobbyist for mental health and those I talked to said this was a good way to go about it. My friends thought it was hilarious. But, I was good at it. My biggest problem was that I became too involved. I could swap stories with the people in the house. I wasn’t supposed to, but I felt it gave them some hope. If I had been as low as they were and now I was where I was, there was hope. What they didn’t know was that I was decomposing right in front of them.
When I returned, it wasn’t the same. I was not medicated correctly, not having seen the psych doc yet. I knew that I was going to have to find a new psychiatrist and start back on the road of new meds, but was scared out of my mind. I was swallowing my Klonopin and Xanax like candy. One of the byproducts was that I’d run out of my benzos and then spend a week or two detoxing from them and have to go to work. If you have ever detoxed from anything you might have an idea of what that was like. My head was a cotton ball, hands shaking, and nose running like I had a cold.
I lasted two weeks. Finally one day I took a normal day’s dosage of Klonopin. Well a Samantha dosage. But, it turned out what I grabbed and swallowed wasn’t Klonopin and about an hour into my shift I blacked out. I have no memory of the rest of the day. This is what I have pieced together. I had to take the company van to take a client to the county mental health hospital. On the way back I hit a parked car. I got out of the van and just left. I walked about 6 miles to my apartment. The next thing I remember is a Sheriff knocking on my door asking where the van was. I said I had no idea; I had driven home from work in my car. He asked to see my car. I walked him to our parking lot. No car. He walked me to my door without saying a word left as I went into my house. I had no idea what had happened. Then I looked down at my feet, I had someone else’s shoes on my feet. Shoes I had never seen in my life.
The next morning my friend drove me to work to collect my backpack and car; I had already talked to a friend from work and got the story so I sort of ran in and out. That afternoon for some reason I figured I was supposed to go to work as normal. I was running late and called in, the boss came on the phone and said not to come in they hadn’t quite decided what to do. An hour later they had. I was fired. Honestly, what else could they do? I’m damn lucky they didn’t press charges, I got off easy.
So, I’m under medicated and unemployed. There are two things I need to do. Get unemployment/disability (no way am I going to get regular unemployment!) and find a new psychiatrist. I’m manic enough to get this done. Because I have this talent of finding what I need. I really do, it amazes people. When I was first diagnosed, I got Social Security in one try, almost unheard of. My best friend always said I could get money from a rock. My mantra has always been when things are at their worst “something will happen.” And it will. After three calls I find a private practice Psychiatrist who will take my Medicare. He’s a 20 minute drive, but I don’t care I need someone soon because I’m running out of my anti-anxieties as well as my Seroquel and Lamictal. And I need something to take the place of the Geodon, because I am not OK. I also have all the paper work for disability that I need filled out. Luckily I can do this on the phone. I am in the agoraphobic zone big time. I can make it the block to my new pharmacist. Some days the three blocks to the corner market, and once a week my church – Target (but even there only for about 15 minutes before hyperventilating).
After my first appointment with Dr. Sanchez (I have to get a friend to take me, otherwise I’ll never make it out the door), I feel OK about him. He’s no Dr. Barnett, but I know there never will be a Dr. who will match him. He has approved the disability, the amount of Benzos (anti-anxieties), and decided to add Zyprexa to my mix. He’s friendly, and he recognizes that I’m not a normal patient. I come in with a notebook that contains all of my symptoms, medications tried, and I’m upfront and honest. I answer some of his questions before he asks.
For the next 2-3 weeks the first thing I do every morning is call the EDD to find out the status of my application. I swear the machine knows the sound of the touch pad on my phone. I talk to actual people; they say my application went down to Van Nuys. Then someone else says it is in Stockton. As it approaches week 4, I call almost in tears and am told it has been approved, there was a mistake and I will be receiving a check within the week. See, money from a rock.
That’s the money part of the story. Let’s talk meds. Zyprexa. I’m closing in on magic day 10; the rule of thumb is that you can’t really know if something is working until you’ve been taking it for 10 days. I am not feeling much better. Now, 7-8 years ago my doctor gave me Ambien and weird things would happen at night. I would wake up in the morning and go into the kitchen and there would be detritus from someone making an entire meal. Since I lived alone, it meant I was cooking in my sleep. I’d go into the bathroom and the bathtub would be full. I’d call a friend and start to tell her a story and she’d say “Samantha you told me that last night.” Yikes! When I put it all together (no, it didn’t take too long) I told Dr. Barnett, he told me I had better stop taking it “now! Why didn’t you stop the first night you did one of these things?” Ouch, I just thought it was a one time thing. A year ago, they put a warning on Ambien about “sleep eating.” 6 years too late. What everyone kept saying was – at least I never got in my car.
Yes, at least I never got in my car. I have been taking night meds since 1995. I had never; never gotten in my car once those pills were swallowed. One night after taking my new cocktail, which contained the Zyprexa, all I remember is thinking “I want something sweet.” The next thing I remember is sitting on a curb telling a police officer who had just asked me if I’d been drinking, that “no I took my night meds and I shouldn’t have been driving, I never drove after my night meds, why did I get in my car?” They put me in an ambulance and took me to the emergency room. I was fine, I had hit a parked car while zooming down a residential street on my way to the grocery store, I guess. I had totaled the car, so must have been going pretty fast. The only injury I had were burns and scrapes on my face from the air bag. It was very scary; this was my second car accident where I had no memory of it. I was also fumingly angry. It had to be the Zyprexa; there was no other new medication. I knew better than to get into the car. I had blacked out, again. The next day I called Dr. Sanchez and was able to go see him (luckily someone could take me – two pronged problem, scared to leave house and now no car). I guess he was practicing bedside manner. He said, well we’ll take you off the Zyprexa and try something else, but know I am sorry you were in an accident. He wrote a prescription and sent me on my way. No discussion, nothing. I’m beginning not to like this guy.
Now the agoraphobia has become a problem. I can’t even go for a cup of coffee with my friends. I have one old friend who has stuck around, the rest have written me off. The problem is the one who has stuck around comes with strings attached. Larry cares for me in a way that I don’t care for him. But, we’ve been best friends for about 9 years and he knows how I feel. He’s always there to get me out of a pinch, and it makes me feel guilty. I won’t give in, even though friends and family have told me that he would be the perfect boyfriend. I know that I’d be taking advantage and would in the end hurt him even more.
So, I sit alone in my apartment. Larry comes by for a little while when he gets off work. Some days I welcome this, often not. I like talking to him on the phone, many of his mannerisms annoy me in person. Then I start to make some friends, or rather acquaintances in the apartment building. They don’t mind coming to my apartment to visit and have no problem with the fact that I can’t make it upstairs to theirs. At this point just going to get the mail makes my heart race.