What Are You Looking For In A Therapist?

You’ve seen the title of this piece, so let me start by saying this question has been asked of me by my doctor, and it’s a long story. Overall, my best response was, “Someone who isn’t an asshole. Someone who isn’t going to waste my time, and someone whose office I will not leave more furious than when I went in.” If you’ve never dealt with a therapist before, believe me when I say these are supremely honest, reasonable requests. Then I noted my history and realized how much this traumatizes me, repeatedly.

I began talking with psychiatrists and therapists around age twelve or thirteen, as a way to combat the damage I was experiencing at home, with an abusive, controlling father. The first doctor was fired after roughly two sessions, in which he threatened to hospitalize me at the first appointment because I didn’t care to talk to him. “If you don’t change your behavior, I will hospitalize you.” First time meeting me, barely knew a thing about me, and he was already making undue threats. That’s called, “abuse of power”. There’s not a single mental health professional who should be threatening their patients. That’s illegal and, depending on the personality they are dealing with, quite dangerous. He had already openly admitted of being afraid of meeting up with someone like me in a dark alley, but he made no attempt to connect or get to know me and what I was going through.

To provide helpful background, I was in no danger of harming myself or others, but he saw fit to disrespect me, to call my mother names when he asked her to leave the room for a short period of time to “chat” with me (Asking me about her personality and disrespecting her for seeking out help for her child. Yeah, that didn’t sit well with me. To this day, despite the fact that my mother has been gone almost thirteen years, if someone disrespects her or speaks negatively about her, they might end up choking on their own teeth. I tend to warn people in advance, but I only warn you once.), and when I told her precisely what was said behind closed doors, she called and cancelled the following appointment, letting him know I would not be returning. He had the audacity to call her and ask why I didn’t show up for my appointment, pretending he had not received notice of the cancellation. She had given him plenty of notice as to why I would not be coming back, but once he called, he opened himself up to being schooled for his horrible behavior. This first introduction to a psychiatrist, one who specialized in treating adolescents, left me scarred. I was not scared of this doctor, but I did contemplate going back to his house (he worked out of a home office) and cutting his tires. I had to return to the person who’d referred me and explain why this doctor should not be seeing anyone, leave alone children. I don’t remember his name, but I hope he rots for how he treated me. I didn’t need an abusive doctor; I already had enough abuse at home.

After that, I saw a therapist for a few years, and she was all right. At this point, I was already an established writer and I was careful with my words with her. She still assisted for a while when I moved out of state.

My next doctor wasn’t much better, except that instead of abuse or threats (or a combination of both), her answer to everything was medication. For over a year, she practically force-fed me Prozac until I put my foot down and refused to take it. I was about five foot three at the time and one hundred and twenty pounds. Antidepressants in that particular class can cause severe weight gain and other health issues. I wasn’t eating any differently, nor was I eating more often, but suddenly I was trapped in a body that wasn’t my own. If I hadn’t started out depressed, I was by the time I fired her. I spent two straight years on roughly ten different medications before I finally decided to stop seeing her. She was unreachable when not in the office, she was not helping me in any way because she had misdiagnosed me, and when my therapist at the same location left, so did I. I then spent a few years obsessed with working out in my attempt to shed the medication weight. I was working out three times a day. This doctor didn’t understand that she’d destroyed my sense of self and self-esteem. Her answer for everything was pills.

After firing several more doctors, I would end up back in session with the therapist who had left, but now had her own practice. In three years, I didn’t feel she did much for me, and when she was pregnant with her first child, she decided not to see patients any more. She left me in limbo, and I’m sure this was true for others, as well.

A year or so later, I ended up in the office of another doctor. To say he was a piece of work would be a vast understatement. Don’t assume a physician who went to three Ivy League schools is better equipped at helping you than one who went to medical school elsewhere. He was a nightmare, and my neurologist at the time had referred me to him. This doctor refused to take my mental health seriously, and wanted to put me into some kind of “day program” where I would interact with other people who suffered from varying degrees of mental illness. He thought this was the only way I’d, “get better”. He even yelled at me during an appointment in which he had to fill out a form for my insurance, which took less than ten minutes of his time at the end of a session which cost roughly $500 for an hour. Mind you, this was his charge before insurance reimbursed me. This “relationship” where he refused to help me did not last long. In fact, it lead me to a new therapist who would refer me to a psychiatrist who happened to know the previous doctor.

I was under the care of the new psychiatrist for sixteen years. His treatment was sub-par, outside of when I was in his office. When my records were requested in 2016, he actually claimed I was never under his care! After having submitted my entire chart, which was over six hundred pages, which included personal notes which never should have seen the light of day, I called him and confronted him. For sixteen years, he told me I was suffering from Bipolar I and II, mixed episode. This diagnosis was one hundred percent inaccurate.

In an attempt to help myself, I did see a therapist for six months in 2012. When I lost my insurance, she disappeared. I’m still annoyed by that because I feel like she was a good therapist for me.

When I met my current treating physician, he was astounded by how much medical neglect I had endured between doctors and inept therapists. When he handed me my new diagnosis, it was a game-changer, but it also left me devastated, because there was no way to fix any of it. The damage was done, and all we could do was treat things here and there.

The day I first met him, he disclosed he’d be leaving in a month. Our last discussion, days before he left that particular hospital, he said his biggest regret was not being able to do more to help me. This stayed with me. Upon his departure, my case was handed over to another doctor who, upon meeting me, in less than ten minutes, insinuated I was an addict because I was taking medication she didn’t approve of. This woman tried to damage my medical record as part of her vendetta, and she pursued getting me kicked out of the mental health care clinic, but I lucked out with a therapist who fought on my behalf. Unfortunately, nine months later, she would also leave that particular hospital.

I was now left with no therapist and no doctor. I signed up for waitlists with a handful of places offering therapy and either no doctor or they had someone who came in once a month to prescribe medication. After meeting with two different therapists, I lost my patience and let both of them know I would not be returning. Not long after, I bumped into my doctor in one of the medical buildings where I now go, having since changed insurance companies to one that covers a broader spectrum of things and has a larger service coverage area (the entire state, pretty much, along with parts of Rhode Island and Connecticut). In less than two weeks, I had an appointment and was “back in business”, so to speak.

My doctor actually gives a fuck about me. I am trying to keep this in mind because I’m annoyed as hell with him right now. His first attempt of setting me up with a therapist he works with crashed and burned. I wasted ten months of my life dealing with this woman, and at my very first appointment, she made the crucial mistake of threatening me. Knowing what I know about what needs to be said between clinician and patient, I tried to let it go, but I then spent the entire time waiting for her to be a better therapist, which never happened. I cancelled my last appointment with her because 1, I was going to tear her a new asshole. 2, I did not feel she would be receptive to the feedback, and more than that, did I really want her to get paid as I shredded her for being a useless therapist? No. She didn’t deserve to be paid when I was going to be angry going in and leaving. That’s not right, or fair. When I explained this to my doctor, he agreed I did the right thing by being silent, but explaining to him why it didn’t work out. She was in no way invested in my well-being, and it was obvious, especially as she repeatedly checked the clock from the second I arrived, right up until the final moments of each session.

Collectively, my doctor and I decided to shelve the pursuant of a new therapist after I called twenty different therapists, all to be told that they had full practices, which means they aren’t taking on new patients. A few had a three year waiting list to see them, and at that point, I’d had enough of the bullshit of flaky therapists.

When it came up towards the end of last year, he didn’t really have too many ideas or options for me, but was willing to keep trying. I had actually considered fighting for my out-of-network benefits to return to a previous therapist, providing she agreed.

Today is the day to go over the whole, “What are you looking for in a therapist?” question for what is hopefully the last time, and see where this goes. It gives me anxiety and makes me sick to my stomach. Because ultimately, I don’t know if I’ll ever meet a therapist and feel they are a “good fit” for me. It takes time to build trust and establish a relationship enough to be vulnerable. Anyone who truly knows me, knows I’m the least likely person in any given room to put myself in a position of weakness. I’m pretty glacial most of the time. I’m not a welcoming person; I will get to know you first. I am not overly trusting, either. These are things you have to earn with me, yet I see people give away trust like tissues all the time, and then they wonder why they’re devastated in the end.

It is so rare for me to meet anyone and feel an immediate sense of rightness, but when I do, I am much more forthcoming with them because I know I’m not being judged. Over the past year I have come to realize that, in many instances, people tell me everything about their lives, and this likely stems from being a good listener, a solid confidant, and someone people often rely on in an advisory capacity, but if asked, they would not be able to tell you much about me. This is why people often say, “Check on your strong friends.” The person who is everyone’s rock is not always okay, but by turning to them constantly, never asking about their health or life, you are diminishing them and that isn’t acceptable behavior. In fact, it’s a quick way for me to boot you out of my life. It’s not “the silent treatment”, it’s walking away from toxicity with your self-respect. That’s what I have to do to preserve my sanity at times, and I will never apologize for it.

I’ll see how this Telehealth appointment goes and make my decision from there. I know whatever happens, it will be a collaborative discussion. Having a doctor who doesn’t Lord over you is important. If you’re working on your mental health, keep this in mind through your journey.

Brightest of Blessings,

copyright © 2021 by Lisa Marino & Poison In Lethal Doses, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Where Did This Month Go?

I blinked and it is January 31st. Another mindfuck.

I’ve had a lot to say, a lot to think about, and a lot I didn’t write this month. I’d start to say something and it would irk me, so I’d draft it and move on. In the meantime, I did manage to read over sixty books this month, so it’s not all bad. That’s a damn good achievement. Most of what I read was for research purposes and it will carry into February. The goal is to educate myself on specific topics, and get the information I am looking for while I read. I don’t do a lot of leisure reading these days. There’s a method to my madness.

I had an in-office medical procedure performed last Monday. I’m mostly used to it at this point, but man did it hit me hard. I was in so much pain after the fact, I actually fell asleep (In fairness, I nearly fell asleep multiple times in the waiting room before my doctor came out to see me. The medication I take should have had me wide awake and a little off-center, but instead, I was ready to nap.), whereas after this particular procedure, I often have trouble sleeping. I am still recovering from it (Recovery is approximately two full weeks, give or take. If I didn’t have an autoimmune disease, my body would respond differently.), and also dealing with some new (to me) aspects of Fibromyalgia pain. I get rib pain on my left side a few days before any type of storm hits (rain/snow). It feels like I’ve been stabbed in the back, but if cold air hits my lungs, it makes it so much worse. When I brought this up with my doctor, he blew it off completely and told me my lung x-ray was clear. That was many months ago, and I’m still in pain and still being ignored. I have also since had a really awful sinus infection which required two different antibiotics, so when I talk to him about coughing and associated pain, I hear him not taking my concerns seriously. As per usual.

One of the positive signs, once the state of emergency is lifted (And I have no idea when that will be, as Massachusetts cases are still quite high on the North Shore.), will be when I am able to safely make an appointment with someone new, and fire my current doctor. Believe me when I say my review of him will be honest, but fair, and it might come off a bit harsh, but since becoming my doctor a little over a year ago, he has been predominantly useless on every level. I don’t need any more useless physicians; and no one deserved to feel this way when they turn to a physician for help. More than once I’ve nearly suggested he go back to medical school. I have a Telehealth appointment scheduled with him for February. Since he’s gone back and forth with me, first saying, “We will find the source of your pain.” at my first appointment (and continuing to reassure me over time that this would be achieved.), to suddenly saying, “We may never find the source of your pain.”, I feel justified that he isn’t capable of handling my case. It isn’t my fault that I suffer from something he isn’t trained to handle; but it IS a failing of his medical education. The fact that he has other patients with almost the same medical history as mine is scary. I wonder if they’re content with his treatment or if they are being treated better, worse, or about the same. This is probably the first time I’ve questioned if we’re all getting the same treatment. I’ve noticed some people are being treated better based solely on their insurance. Mine covers damn near everything, so as a physician, if you’re changing up treatment methods based on insurance, you are failing your patients. I see so much lazy medicine, it drives me insane. I shouldn’t be doing work for a doctor. That isn’t right, or fair. I work hard enough without having to do extra work.

I will be making a small list of goals for the month of February. I will choose three, to keep it reasonable.

For starters, I will be supporting the American Heart Association for American Heart Month. You’ll notice the colors change monthly for whatever I am choosing to bring awareness to. Sometimes this will mean weekly color changes. Links are included in case the charity (or charities) I choose is something you would like to give a small donation to.

I chose AHA because genetic heart disease and heart attacks have affected more than 50% of my family members, starting with my paternal Grandfather, who died at age forty of a massive heart attack. My maternal Grandfather also passed away from a heart attack. 😦 I lost my mother the same way, and nearly lost my brother a few years ago to the same genetic disorder. I’ve been mildly assured I am not carrying the gene, but I am wary about it, and worry about passing it down. For all the good genes I have, heart issues are not at the top of the list. 😦 I am doing my level best to be healthier to avoid potential issues. I am determined to be my version of healthy, as opposed to an unhealthy mental version of what health should look like.

If there are any diseases you’d like to see me feature this month (or in general), please leave me a message here, or on any of my social media platforms. I will reply.

For now, I say goodbye to January and hope February will be kinder to us all.

Bright Blessings,

copyright © 2021 by Lisa Marino & Poison In Lethal Doses, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Day One

My vibe for this year is so different. I think part of it has to do with already knowing the direction I’m heading in, and knowing I can rock it. I only left a little, “up in the air”. The rest is falling into place, as it’s supposed to, because I did a lot of work preparing for it last year.

2021 is a complete investment in myself. I wasted too much time encouraging others, so now I’m encouraging myself. I’m not seeking approval or trying to be someone I’m not. I’m going to roll with it all, pray for the best, and be prepared if things aren’t some idealized version of, “perfect”, because that’s not realistic.

It’s important to remind myself how many impossible things I have already faced, head on, and survived or achieved. Basically, this is the year for me to remind myself who the fuck I am. I don’t require approval to grow or to be my best self. I am simply going to keep my mouth shut and do it. Sort of. 😉

Of course, this also bears the ultimate question… Are you ready for it?

To Many More

I’ve been here for a little over six years (Eight years in total with WordPress), and I am proud of how this site has grown. I appreciate all the new readership that has come on board over the past few months, and in general. I wish I could hug all of you, and I’m not a hugger, so I hope you know I mean well when I say this.

I still feel like 2020 just began. I was reading something I wrote the other day, right around this time last year, and it was exactly the same in terms of what was going on from a mood standpoint. Minus any mentions of Covid, because it was only slowly becoming an issue North Americans (and most of Europe) might face. We truly had no idea what was coming our way, and I remember thinking how limited our information was, at the time. It’s disconcerting to go into another year with so many unknowns, especially since I have friends who’ve gotten sick and friends who’ve lost loved ones, as a result. I resent people claiming it’s, “like the flu” or “It’s no big deal. People just want an excuse not to go to work.” Seriously? Most people don’t have a job to go back to, and the flu has never killed anyone I know, period. The ignorance is astounding, and it starts at the top and trickles down.

The fact that we roll into another year in twelve days makes me hesitant. I’d like to err on the side of caution with this one. I don’t want to get my hopes up. As someone who tested negative for Covid, I am still concerned that if I drop my guard for a second, I could end up sick. This virus is as unpredictable as a blizzard, and equally as dangerous.

I am saying a collective prayer tonight, and I hope it keeps a lot of people safe. As for direction, I hope there are many more December 19ths where I can thank all of you, and celebrate the victories of the year.

Bright Blessings,

Pre-Thanksgiving Jitters

Hello, everyone. It’s been a minute, and the reality is, I’ve been sick for over a month. 😦 I haven’t had any real energy, and I’ve struggled with not getting enough sleep and then getting too much sleep, if too much sleep is actually a real thing. <Sigh> According to my body, it isn’t.

Fighting pain 24/7 is exhausting, let’s be clear about that. I might be the only person I know who can have caffeine in her system, or any stimulant (My normal amount is none, but extended quarantine and curfews have led to MANY changes. I keep saying I’m not myself, and I say it because it’s true. I don’t feel like myself, sound like myself, and I am definitely not behaving like the person I truly am.). and fall asleep fifteen minutes later. Not for a short period of time, either. I can be out for twelve hours straight, or longer. My body cannot seem to get enough rest no matter what I do. Yes, it’s possible I’m burnt out, but I am still concerned.

I am seemingly more allergic this year than ever before, so I’m kind of glad I ordered tissues in bulk a few months ago. If I’m not coughing, I’m sneezing. I only noticed this recently. Apparently, you can still get the mother of all colds without being around too many people. Epic suckage.

I’ll be honest; the last thing on Earth I want to do is partake in any type of traditional Thanksgiving meal. On top of having no appetite, which I will be addressing in another piece soon, I would have been totally cool making homemade pizza or anything less complicated than a turkey, stuffing, etc. So when the turkey arrived, along with other traditional items to accompany it, I was immediately nauseous. Let me be clear: I am by no means ungrateful. I know I am extremely lucky to have a roof over my head and enough food to feed my own hockey team, but I already know how time-consuming and energy consuming this type of cooking is. I felt like I had made this clear, and still, I found myself deeply annoyed, bordering on hostile, and then I settled down and decided I cannot be responsible for that which is not wholly my idea. Period. Others have the right to celebrate, even if I do not feel well enough to do so.

I have not made anything traditional for Thanksgiving in a long time, and not once did anyone complain about this. But now, my head cannot stop going over my stuffing recipe. It is actually easy to make, but thinking about it tires me out. Lots of chopping and nailing down the flavor, toss it together in a huge cooking pan, a short amount of cooking time (under two hours), and then you have enough food for a week or more. It’s my mother’s recipe. I have since tweaked it, and yet, it tastes exactly like hers. But do I want to make it, or any carb heavy dish right now? NO.

The more I factor in the realities of “Thanksgiving”, the less I want to partake in it. The historical inaccuracies to modern day truth is something I struggle with, and I know I am not alone in this.

I spent a large part of my life being told I was white, and there was always a measure of shame added to this because of the, “privilege” it may, or may not, bring with it. I am pretty sure my long form birth certificate states I am a Caucasian female, which is incorrect (and my parents were not asked for any unobvious information, either.). To be clear, I was told at a very young age that we were Russian. Eastern European. Nothing else. Blood tests and cheek swabs would tell a much larger story, and it would explain childhood dreams of countries I had never even heard of (Circa, age two), the things I would say before ever learning anything about world history, and the things I surmised from hearing different languages spoken around me. So as someone who is more rooted in her culture(s) and ancestry, “Thanksgiving” is merely a date on the calendar. And it makes me sigh, in sadness.

Someone mentioned this is the 399th Thanksgiving which will be celebrated on U.S. soil. The history of how European settlers were somehow bestowing kindness upon those who actually showed them kindness, and as a result of their arrival, brought illness and death to the Native American tribes upset me into a headspace of feeling the way I’ve felt for a long time. Un-American. And by using that particular phrase I mean, “Different.” or perhaps, “Other”. That’s the best way to explain it. Usually when someone meets me for the first time, they will describe me as, “Otherworldly”. They don’t mean I’m alien, just different to a degree they vibe with.

For me, this is another year without my Grandparents and parents, and that’s painful no matter how I look at it. It reminds me of all I’ve lost. It is another year separated from my brother, who could not be here even if he wanted to be because traveling is unsafe, and while we knew this ahead of time, we did not know traveling into New York City, even if you did not intend to stop, would require being stopped at bridges and tunnels to ensure you have a negative Covid test in hand. This requires a LOT of on the ground manpower for every out-of-state vehicle. And because of his job, I know he can’t be away for too long because he has so many professional responsibilities. I’ve come to terms with the fact that we won’t see each other for a while. If he was a better communicator, this would not be an issue, but he’s horrendous. I have a texting relationship with the asshole. And he’s likely to read this, which is fine. I do miss him, but I have no patience for him these days. And by, “him”, I mean everyone. 😉

However you are choosing to celebrate this year, I wish you good health and peace. Thank you for being on this journey with me. For that, I am incredibly grateful. 🙂

copyright © 2020 by Lisa Marino & Poison In Lethal Doses, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Friday the 13th

I’m not overly superstitious, but today was a bit much for me. I woke up with an arm injury (I am typing with my left hand. Perhaps it’s a good thing I trained myself to use it in all situations, in case I ever had a stroke.) that is painful. I’m not sure how it happened, either, so I spent the day trying to manage my pain, in between a rescheduled Telehealth appointment, and other crazy happenings. I am praying the weekend is better.

I’m trying to manage a lot at the moment, but I will be back with better material moving forward.

Have a safe weekend, and try to lead with kindness.

Launch Day

Notice anything different today? If not, you will. Change is coming in big ways, and it started this morning when I made, “Poison In Lethal Doses” a true website.

This has been in the works for a while, but I wanted to launch the site on my birthday as a constant reminder of my writing and various community achievements here, and off-line. There are excellent opportunities and positive things I will be sharing as I get deeper into each project, but for now, I celebrate the bittersweet of this launch. The timing is crucial as I try to cope with difficult emotions. Hoping for the best. Thank you for reading. 🙂

P.S. Yes, the ads are annoying AF. I apologize. Click on one, you don’t have to browse. It keeps the site running financially. If it bothers anyone too much, please let me know. I did it on purpose to monetize slightly, but I can undo it, as well. I will ultimately do what is best for my readers and myself. We can figure it out together.

Current Mood > Assumptions

I keep asking myself when a day won’t feel, “rough”, “tough”, “heartbreaking”, “emotionally taxing”, “lonely”, or “deeply upsetting”. The fact of the matter is, as someone who rarely cries, I’ve been an emotional tornado. I’ve cried so much over the past few days, and that only angers me.

In the past week I’ve nearly hyperventilated from anxiety (and being overstimulated in a small crowd. Thank you, Anthony for getting me the hell out of there!), felt re-traumatized by photos and memories, and I’ve been going to bed early to try and regulate my sleep schedule (I haven’t even factored in the pain I’m in 24/7.). I’m having weird dreams and Complex PTSD medication can only do so much. Nothing is perfect. The medication is failing and my sleep medication is waking me hours before I should ever see the light of day. I hope a few adjustments with the new medication will make a difference, but nothing is etched in stone. I try, but I don’t have much hope in these things.

The words, “chemically resistant” and “treatment resistant”, are VERY sad words to hear, even if you’ve known them to be a fact from day one. Every day, I do my part to represent the Mental Health Community honestly and openly, with no hidden agenda. I remember EVERY moment and every person who has tried to make me feel ashamed for something outside of my control. If you’ve ever felt that way, you’re NOT alone. Consider how miserable other people must be to criticize you without just cause, talk behind your back, or medication shame you in public. These people lack kindness, compassion, empathy, and basic human decency.

Last week, a suicide prevention organization reached out to me. I was actually offended by what they had to say because prior to hearing from them (An organization which should know better!), two other organizations asked me to become a Mental Health Awareness Ambassador for them. Since this is a non-paid position, I told each of them to contact me directly if they wanted to pursue this (They didn’t.). I am already a card-carrying green ribbon ambassador. If someone wants me to be the face of something, then they need to know my time is worth being paid for. I paid my dues a LONG time ago and will not work for free. I’m not new to this experience, nor am I newly diagnosed. I’ve suffered my way through life and, somehow, probably out of sheer stupidity, I am still here.

To those who’ve been treating me like my friendship, love, loyalty, kindness, and time are expendable; FUCK YOU. You get what you give. I was fine before you ever came along and I will survive without you. Please know this.

I’m not okay. I’ve been clear about this. Maybe this level of brutal honesty will help others.

**If you’re struggling with mental health issues, and you aren’t sure where to go, please message me. I will provide information for your area.**

Not Quite

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I’m still not doing too great post-treatment. I’m either sleeping too little or too much, and the amount of pain I am in may last another 7-10 days. The plus side of this is that I was approved to start taking Nurtec. I’ll figure this out as I go, but thus far, I haven’t heard a single negative thing about it. Considering all the migraine sufferers in the world and the suddenness of the CGRP drugs being pushed through slightly over two years ago, only hearing positive things is a lot like finding a unicorn. I will know more when the hospital pharmacy delivers it to me in a few days.

Beyond this, I am trying to ease up on myself. As someone who is harder on herself than anyone else could possibly be, I’m trying to take it easy. I am trying to tell myself it’s okay if I can’t do something immediately. I have to tell myself that if I needed to sleep, then that’s what I should be doing. I’m about 20% less stressed since I started this mantra of putting less pressure on myself to get things done, but that doesn’t mean anxiety and stress don’t rear their ugly heads, because THEY DO.

Today was an epic fail. Initially, I couldn’t fall sleep, so I took medication my doctor prescribed, at a higher dose that we’ve talked about over the past month or so. It doesn’t always hit me hard (or at all), but this time, it put me down for the count. I was awake just long enough to drink a lot of water and ended up back in bed for seven hours. This was after getting roughly eight hours of sleep, so clearly, this dose is too high for me right now. I will cut the dose down and see where that takes me, but I’ve already discussed the fact that I detest relying on it every single night. In most cases, it’s a temporary prescription, but I’ve been on and off of it for the better part of eight months. I haven’t taken it consistently because I don’t want to be dependent on any medication. It is frustrating because there doesn’t seem to be an exact science to the dosing (for me). The goal was for me to be sleeping at night and have better days, but I can’t have better days if the medicine is still in my system and putting me back to sleep. In hindsight, I do think I needed that extra rest. The downside? I am worried about when I will, inevitably, fall asleep and wake up. I don’t have to be anywhere, but I do have a considerable amount of work to get done. I know it WILL get done, but for this week, at least, I have to ease up on stressing myself out and making my anxiety worse. It’s so much easier said, than done.

There’s no crystal ball to tell me how the next few weeks will pan out, but I am hoping, and praying, for better days. I’m not quite there, yet.

 

Ignoring The Crossroads

When I decided to take “Poison In Lethal Doses” from a printed, exclusive, personally publicized format to an online, public, still personally publicized, but zero profit format, I opened it up in a way I wasn’t quite expecting. I won’t lie; having experience helped. Having confidence helped even more. In no way was I “just starting out” or “testing the waters. I had an established portfolio. I had a built-in following. I did not feel the least bit hesitant about this next step. I came from a place of confidence and knowledge.

To this day, I still feel blessed to every single person who helped me pave my own path. Especially the teachers I had in the New York City public school system. They broke the mold with those original English, History, and Science teachers who took a shine to me, and the many who kept in touch with me for years after I graduated. Between them and my Mom believing in my work, I was able to shed my skin and focus solely on what I wanted to do.

When I worked in Public and Fan Relations for professional  athletes (FYI: I am entirely self-taught in this particular field. It always seemed to work smoothly, despite the difficult people I worked on behalf of. I actually walked away without references or letters of recommendation simply to get out of an increasingly toxic environment. I have no desire to return to that kind of work, but if I had to do it again, I am fully capable of doing it for myself or for someone else. That’s a skill set you can’t be taught; you either have the ability to do it or you don’t. Knowing how to do it and do it well is a gift. I am grateful for the opportunities and experience, and proud of myself because I took it on and made a name for myself. Don’t be afraid to be an assertive individual who can take charge; sometimes doors open for you because of that tenacity.), people told me I was too talented to waste my time in those roles. Essentially, they were right. To a degree; as I am a relatively ego-free individual. I walked away because I outgrew it. Sometimes, a dramatic change is one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself. Even still, it took time to be comfortable being the main focus at all times, and yet it’s completely gratifying, based solely on the feedback I receive, and knowing when something I’ve written is good, or not.

bartwo

A few months ago, I changed my Instagram handle and decided to make “Poison In Lethal Doses” my main focus, personally and professionally. There are two separate accounts for this on Instagram, and I have since expanded with a second Twitter feed for a new project. I quietly made plans for expansion this year, and I know I can work hard to achieve launch by year’s end. I may be planning and God may be laughing, but I’d rather plan and create something successful, funny, entertaining, and relatable, as opposed to not planning at all and sticking to the status quo. That isn’t enough for me; ergo, new project.

The craziness and uncertainty of the Coronavirus cannot be allowed to stop everything in my life, so I put my foot down and made some decisions. I will keep making those decisions and prepare to achieve a goal I feel is quite doable. Like anything else, it does require patience and a considerable amount of startup material from me, but I have to stop underestimating myself. I’ve already achieved things most people haven’t, so this is a period of reflection for me. I need to remind myself who I am and what I am capable of. I’m not going to place an expiration date on myself with this.

Over the past few years, I have felt like I was in an episode of Supernatural, waiting for a crossroads demon to appear, and grant me my deepest, darkest wish in exchange for my soul. Hey, you can laugh, but stranger things have happened. The last time I felt this way my life took a sudden, and extremely drastic turn. It was something I was completely unprepared for, yet I handled it to the best of my ability. Soon after, the path was lit up and clear. But now? Now there’s just me in the center, and what seems to be a hundred different forks in the road in every possible direction. I actually found myself doodling this precise visual when I was on hold one day. When I glanced down, I realized my subconscious was in perfect understanding and agreement with my current thoughts.

bartwo

Moving forward, this is maybe the second time I get to make the decision for me, and me alone. I don’t have to factor anyone else into the equation. I am not responsible for anyone else, and I do not have to feel a sense of responsibility for others, either. I am free to do this for myself. And anyone who is a part of my life can choose to grow with me, or go off on their own. It’s a little unnerving to feel so rootless, but another side of me wonders if this isn’t the entire point. Be rootless. Follow your own arrow/path. Let other people do their own thing, and don’t read anything into their decisions, focus ONLY on yourself and where you want to be. People often refer to this as, “being selfish”. It’s not selfish. It’s prioritizing. As someone who isn’t selfish, I would know the difference quicker than someone who is predominantly selfish and has never considered another person in their entire life.

When I am making big decisions and I’m questioning myself, or feeling like there’s major risk involved, I will often turn to a deck of tarot cards to give me a little guidance. The Rider-Waite deck never fails to put me at ease. I do this once or twice a year, if that. The cards are honest. If they tell me my path is unclear, they aren’t kidding. For years, I would pull many of the same cards and be told to be patient until things became clearer. My most recent reading has some insightful, positive reality in it.

Drawing the Two of Wands in my chosen reading is about a challenge to learn to use downtime productively. Certain aspects of creativity require leisure. There is no available energy for forward progress at this time, so I am advised to rest and restore myself. Rather than waste time during such an opportunity, I am to use it for relaxation or meditation. I am not to worry about how to orchestrate things just yet; but open myself to the sights, sounds, and realities of the situation as it is. This will put me in a more favorable position when the time for action arrives.

Like I said, it was insightful and positive. It’s also true. I have been stressed about the orchestration because it feels like a lot of things need to get done in a short period of time, but I’m going to live and let myself be guided. I don’t need to have all the answers in this precise moment. I do, however, need to breathe and refocus.

I was impressed that the cards immediately picked up on this for me. When I am choosing my cards, I make sure to pull only when I feel 100% positive that I am making the right selection. Not once have they lied to me, and since you’re using them as a guidance tool, accuracy is awesome. Sometimes a message might be confusing, until months later.

bartwo

I do not feel like I’ve had a moment of true “downtime” during quarantine, or even now, as states are in different phases of reopening, or in some cases, going backwards. My strongest sense is that we might end up at square one, locked down again, based solely on my sense of things and the number of cases escalating each day. I don’t know if all jobs will be affected a second time or not.

If you thought it was perfectly okay to go on a big vacation to another country during all of this, I hope your idiocy doesn’t land you in a hospital somewhere. People have taken to social media to share photos of vacations they are currently on, which I find ignorant and highly irresponsible. Especially the people who said, “We were bored, so we took our newborn and went to visit family.” Or the people who went away for six weeks to two different European countries (to visit family with their eight month old) where the numbers aren’t good. Did you just have a face palm moment? Yeah, so did I, after I rolled my eyes to South Korea and back. There’s a ton of irresponsible, and downright egotistical behavior going on. We’ve already been told that traveling isn’t 100% safe (and I’m talking about the airport terminals above all else. You can’t tell me they’ve ALL been sanitized within an inch of their lives, or that they’re sanitizing hourly.), and many countries will not allow Americans entry. People are truly showing their privilege, and it’s disgusting, yet important to see people for who they truly are. If you do something stupid and make it public, people have the right to call it out as irresponsible. I say this as an imperfect person. I’m not doing things to put myself, or others, in harm’s way. I am trying to be as smart as humanly possible at all times, even though it’s boring as all get out and work has been difficult.

This is a time where the perfectly healthy should count their blessings hourly, and display some compassion for those of us who are at risk. I have multiple autoimmune diagnoses, so every time I go out wearing a mask and no one other than me keeps their distance, I am more at risk than the healthiest person.

I don’t have the patience to argue the fact that masks are necessary, but WEAR A DAMN MASK. I wear gloves, too. Most people do not. I dispose of these items in a garbage bag, NOT in the parking lot of the store I just left. That’s disgusting and completely disrespectful of the employees who will later have to clean that mess up and risk further exposure. Who raised all these assholes? I also want to address the lack of social distancing. The next time someone walks past me like I’m invisible, I cannot be held responsible for my actions. I’d also like to maintain six feet of distance between myself and others after we’re free of this virus, because I think it’s a good idea. Yes, I am being entirely serious. I have no clue where some of these people have been.

The wearing of a mask is extremely claustrophobic and disorienting for me. It really effects me in a negative way. I’ve come close to the occasional nervous breakdown wearing one in public, but I still do it because it’s nonnegotiable. Even when I’m convinced I can’t breathe. Or when I’m close to having a panic attack. Let’s face it; we are all trying to cope with them. I would say most of us are doing the best we can, and that’s reasonable and fair. It does not mean you need to be glued to the news 24/7. That’s not healthy for any of us, but I do understand the fears many have. Especially as we go into learning that babies and children have always been at risk, and we’re seeing this with numbers of infant and toddler cases globally.

Like anyone else, I know the economy needs to be infused with business. I know many restaurants and small businesses are rapidly declining, as well as enormous businesses. I have noticed the immense increase in online shopping in my own neighborhood (not just for groceries). I have had so many companies reach out to me with products they want reviewed over the past six weeks or so, and I feel inundated at times because I’m trying to figure out what to do with all of it. I am doing more brand calls than normal, which is great. I am in a certain level of professional element when working with different types of brands, and it is wonderful when the point person for certain brands e-mails me later on to say, “They really like you. They said you had the most insight out of anyone else they spoke to.” This kind of feedback is what gets you involved with more and more brands. Of late, it’s been less about the fact that they’re paying me and more about the fact that my mind is being challenged. Be it for phone calls, video calls, or product reviews for websites, it feels good to be challenged in positive ways right now. I have had to rid myself of negativity and toxic people during this situation. There’s only so much I can do, or so much effort I can give before I burn out, especially when your efforts aren’t appreciated or respected. I am putting a lot more boundaries in place now, and they are necessary. I’ll address this at another time, but basically, I get it. I understand where people are coming from. Hopefully most people get where I’m coming from, too.

bartwo

As I “ignore the crossroads”, things will slowly fall into place. Big change is coming and I am open to the positive energy of this change. I want goal-oriented change. I embrace it. I hope you’ll all be there with me and that prioritizing, “Poison In Lethal Doses” will come to mean as much to you as it does to me.

May my message always find you well.

lisa

*Horizontal rules are free to download at: bellsnwhistles.com <<—Link attached.*  

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