The Importance of Doctor/Patient Trust

Today, I received multiple messages from my treating hospital with information I had never sought out because it was off-limits. However, they are now one of the first hospitals in the country to allow patients to view all of our medical records, respond to comments made by anyone who has treated us, and request corrections to the records themselves. This would not be a big deal, under normal circumstances. I’ve already had that level of access and would have to continually roll my eyes, be frustrated with the lies in the file, and ignore the ignorance and stupidity I was dealing with. Until today, when my psychiatric notes were revealed. I read one note from this week, scanned over it three times, and had to calm myself down because I contemplated breaking my doctor’s hands. Pissed is NOT what I felt at all. Worse, he is one of the people who knows me better than others, so I had a hard time swallowing the bullshit.

It took me leaving, and subsequently deleting, nearly ten messages before I was able to calm down enough to say, “I’m not sure if you have been made aware of the fact that I can now see your psych notes. We need to discuss this because I now feel I will have to edit 90% of what I say to you, and that is NOT how we’ve worked to establish trust as doctor and patient, not once from the first day I sat in your office. I’ve always trusted you, and you have always assured me your notes were clinical; yet THESE NOTES WERE PERSONAL. Without correction, they will follow me for the rest of my life. This needs to be addressed. You know precisely what I have been through with doctors writing their perceptions of me, as opposed to the facts I am spelling out, so we don’t need to talk about it next week, but it must be addressed at my next appointment.” I felt like I left the most honest, professional message I could, under the circumstances, and I changed my tone of voice so that he understood how this made me feel and how it would effect me moving forward.

For example, if I say, “I’m a mess.”, I don’t expect to see my doctor put that into clinical notes as the header of our discussion. Really?! Under typical conditions, I can only see we have discussed depression, trauma, PTSD, anxiety, suicidal ideation, etc. I’m using those topics as an example, not as facts. But to read my words twisted slightly to make me seem like a much different person. it retraumatized me from my previous medical trauma, and immediately made me want to say to him, “Are you OUT OF YOUR FUCKING MIND?! How stupid can you be?

Here’s what many people don’t understand about psychiatric notes; they can be subpoenaed in ANY court case. They can be used against you. One improperly written note can be twisted legally into something it isn’t. This has happened to me before; TWICE. He knows this. He knows it has deeply affected my life to terrible degrees, which is why I reacted as I did. I will, one hundred percent, be going through every damn note he writes from now on, and requesting our private discussions be removed from the medical record. They don’t belong there, especially since he processed this as “psychotherapy notes and ten minutes discussing medication”. We actually discussed medication for under five minutes total, with him saying he’d give it some thought and call me in a few days. I missed his call, and he’s damn lucky I did, because I’m not sure I’d be able to have controlled the tone of my voice or the aggression in what I was saying.

I used to wonder how he kept all of his patients lives straight, because his recollections are as precise as my own, until one day, I saw a notebook on his desk at the start of my session, and it’s one of a few he has on me. It’s a nice, leather bound notebook. The kind I’d journal in, and it is filled with his private notes on me. Lord only knows what’s in there! Yet, the actual medical record had way too much private info on me for him to claim he, “keeps it strictly clinical”. I am going to force corrections from 2017 right up until this past week. If he thinks I won’t go over it all with a fine tooth comb, then he’s forgotten the woman who first walked into his office, and declared herself, “A pretty mess.” I have been assured I looked like I was going on a date, but that nothing about what I’ve been through or said could ever be covered up with concealer and properly blended eyeshadow. At my second appointment, I tore him a new asshole for referring to my pulled together appearance as, “a mask” (after he ended the appointment by saying he was leaving in five weeks.), and he admitted I was right and he was wrong. He earned my respect by being a down-to-earth human-being who saw me as a human-being, and didn’t treat me like another annoying mental health patient who doesn’t respond well to medication. But this? This is a deal breaker. It violates everything I hold dear, and now I feel like my entire medical record needs to be turned over to me for review. If I seem like I’m calm, trust me, I’ve got fangs and I’m not afraid to claw those records apart. And I will absolutely hire a lawyer to get the personal information, which is not necessary for such records, completely omitted. He does not want to test me on this.

When my appointments were cancelled due to quarantine last March, it took me three months to get on board with Telehealth. Initially, I felt like other people needed the appointments more than I did. I had weekly appointments for months before I was forced to go down to twice a month. Before agreeing to these appointments, I kept asking myself, “Am I just a pain in the ass patient, am I a challenge for this doctor, will I ever feel better, or am I going to have to look for someone else?” I strongly considered a new psychiatrist because I was confused about how laid back and comfortable our communication is. It has always felt comfortable, human, and safe. It doesn’t feel that way now. In fact, I feel betrayed beyond words, and I wonder how much will require correction.

In this particular moment, I probably need to hear him out first, and then decide if I still want to break his hands. Of all the people I have met as psychiatrists and therapists throughout my mental health care journey, he is the first I have trusted the most. He’s also the first who isn’t completely afraid of me, but probably should be right now.

He won’t hear my message until Monday, and that’s fine. It gives me a few days to cook, read, maybe get in some yoga, do some psychic work, and remind myself that even though he’s taller than I am, I can still knock him out, and by that, I have to say that my message should be enough to make him see reason. As honest as I’ve been here, I will be ten times more honest with him because he needs to know what those notes did and can do.

Anytime there has been an issue between us, he has been good about hearing me out and fixing the problem. On that level, I should consider this before getting upset, but I couldn’t help reading through it and thinking, “Is this how you perceive me?” Because if it is, then there’s a bigger problem underneath it all and that won’t fly with me one bit.

In my message, I made it abundantly clear I might be undermining and/or underestimating my coping mechanisms going into the month of May (If you know, you know. If you don’t, you’ll see what I write next month or you can go through the previous years’ of work. It’s a rough time for me. Period.). I had said, “I don’t think I’ll make it through the month unmedicated.”, and he wants to revisit this discussion because he’s concerned about side effects, even though I suggested a medication I am extremely familiar with. I said this mostly because he will be away next month, during the worst of what I’ll be dealing with and that’s never a good feeling when I have to relive one of the worst months of my life, despite the fact that I have his permission to have him paged no matter what, and also have his personal cell phone number in case of emergencies.

The level of my trauma is a terrible loop and if I block things out, they can (and will) come up out of nowhere and throw me down a metaphorical flight of stairs. It cycles the trauma over and over again, and as he and I discussed this week, “We can’t medicate trauma.” Maybe one day, in the future, this will be possible, but for now, it isn’t. Not being about to help trauma victims and survivors is something the mental health community fails at deeply; in my personal experience.

I wanted him to know I wasn’t demanding the medication, and that I will defer to his guidance, but he also knows I agree to disagree with him a lot. And I do so respectfully. I might be upset, but that’s because this is a relationship I highly value. I’ve felt blessed that someone cared enough to have my back, and today, I felt stabbed in it by the one person who should know better because this is someone who, long before Covid, is the person I spent the most time talking to about the heaviest shit in my life. I will wait to see how this is handled on Monday, and next month when we speak at length. But I’m not going to lie; I am now contemplating dialing my appointments back to once a month and not being anywhere near as forthcoming as usual. As a direct result, I will be searching for a full-time therapist because clearly, if personal things are going to end up in the record, then he is not following proper procedure under the psychotherapy terms and conditions, where every note truly IS clinical and boring as hell.

***On the plus side, the notes state I’m ten years younger than I am, so that’s something he can keep on record. 😉 I’m maintaining the whole reverse aging thing. The fact that a specialist told me this week, “You’re young. You don’t need ANY cosmetic enhancements. There’s not a single wrinkle or mark on your face, and this has not changed since the day I met you.” These are the small things that make me smile while I am going through internal and mental HELL. Last weekend, I stopped into a liquor store to pick up wine and a few other items (I am craving Pina Coladas like nobody’s business! It’s odd. I’m not much of a drinker. I feel like quarantine turned me into a maniac I don’t always recognize.). The second I asked for two small bottles of Jack Daniels (for a recipe I love, but one that is very time consuming and doesn’t require more than a few ounces of JD. I think it calls for a few tablespoons, but I usually eyeball it.), was the moment when, not even realizing I’m behind a mask and sunglasses, the cashier asked to see identification. I could have been anyone. She couldn’t tell my height, eye color, NOTHING. Legally, they have to ask and I always offer, but it amused me. Like I said, these are the small things that make me smile.***

I hope everyone looks into their own medical records for this very reason. Don’t hesitate. Once I calm down, I’ll be tearing through mine like a starving vampire. It’s a good thing I’ve already fired most of the doctors who are in my chart, because they can’t fight me when I ask for something to be removed. It is my legal right. I’d hate to have to do the same with this doctor, so here’s hoping everything gets straightened out. I’d like to think that maybe this situation was a slip on his part, but I won’t ever make excuses for him, and he knows that.

It would be a shame for him to be on vacation with no hands. 😉 I have zero shame in being mean. After all, this involves my life. I should be fully involved in what is written about me, and so should you.

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

Deep, Dark Hole

All too often, people are made to feel ashamed for suffering from anything people can’t visibly see. How sad it is that we live in a world where you’d receive more help and kindness for breaking a leg, as opposed to suffering for the rest of your life? A sick, depraved world; that’s what you face in the world when you suffer from any form of mental illness.

Today was a bad day for me. A bad day on top of G-d only knows how many others which have come before it. I refuse to allow anyone to judge me or make me feel lesser because I suffer in ways they don’t understand. Educate yourself, and maybe you’ll judge a whole lot less.

For me, a bad day could mean any number of things, but it can also mean it’s been a month of despair, or an entire year. I tend to remain silent because support is hard to come by, and quite frankly, I’m tired of the usual rhetoric. The, “I’m sorry to hear that.” crap gets really old, really fast, especially since it is said with not an ounce of genuine care or concern. It is one of the rudest things you can say to me, and I will react and respond to those words in ways you cannot possibly imagine. On a good day I don’t suffer fools. On a bad day, I won’t roll my eyes and pretend one might secretly mean well. No. Those who mean well have better words. If you don’t, I strongly suggest you get better words, quickly. So many people are suffering privately because of ignorance. They are afraid they will lose their friends, family, job, and everything else they value or need to survive.

I see a lot of patently false “woke” people these days pretending to care about things they didn’t care about two years ago, or two months ago. Things many have been silent about their entire lives. It sickens me. It’s so disingenuous. Especially when words exchanged in private are still of the ignorant, hateful sort. There are too many people trying to pretty up their views on others; their judgments.

Too many people are constantly judging a person who is mentally ill, as opposed to trying to help them. I see it and I hear it, and I am not quiet about my views. To do so would be hypocrisy.

I’m going to take care of myself for the next few weeks. Maybe during that time, some people will pick up a book and enlighten themselves. Depression, and mental illness on a whole, doesn’t discriminate. It is the ultimate predator. It doesn’t take out the weak, it tries to take out the strong. Keep that in mind the next time you judge without looking in a mirror first.

We Only Have Ourselves

No, this won’t be a cheerful post. If you ever expect that level of dishonesty from me, please unsubscribe/unfollow now. I’m many things, but direct and honest are the top too words used to describe me as a person. Obviously, I share the good things, too, but I temper most of my enthusiasm. I am not about ego.

Today took its toll on me because I was remembering this precise Saturday, many years ago. I had weird dreams last night into the morning, and then the realization jolted me harshly. Despite taking medication for Complex PTSD, I can see that this time, on the lowest possible dose, it’s failing. Instead of keeping pain and nightmares away, it worked against me. 😦 As the day progressed, I ended up doubled over with what I believe are kidney cramps. I have to give it few days to see if that’s actually what it is. If it passes, or not. Having had kidney stones, I can tell you the pain is excruciating. Right now, I can’t do a whole lot. I can barely go up and down a flight of stairs, but I digress.

I talk about life and loss because it’s part of who I am. I am formed out of loss and built up by life, love, and loss. It’s a vicious, yet honest circle of life.

On the back of my neck, beginning just underneath my hairline, is a tattoo. I call it “The backbone of my life.” because there are others that stretch down the length of my spine (and more to be added), but the first symbol means Life, Death, and Rebirth. It also means Maiden, Mother, and Crone; the three phases of woman. The third definition means Past, Present, and Future. Love, Loyalty, and Friendship is another meaning of this particular symbol. It looks like stained glass. It is done entirely in shades of blue. I get constant compliments on it, but the truth is, I forget it’s there. I forget, until I take a deeper look at my life and how it always cycles back to Life, Death, and Rebirth.

Essentially, it cycles back to all of the key meanings I have shared here. When a friend mentioned how much she likes this symbol and wanted to get it done in the exact same spot, I cringed. She didn’t fully grasp what it means; it was just a symbol she liked, as if looking at flash art in a tattoo studio. She ended up with a massive cross instead, and I breathed a sigh of relief because of how I hold the values of my chosen symbol deeply. It’s not something I did without thought. I actually waited a long time before I decided on something so permanent. I sort of regret the second symbol, but that’s a story for another day.

We all have private pain which is hard to discuss. Some more than others. For me, the memories are so fresh, as if this happened yesterday, but it’s been a long time, and it still impacts my life deeply. As a result, it conjured up dreams about multiple family members. Generally, I don’t dream much about the living, so that was the weirdest part. The dead always visit me. It’s never a question of will they, but when will they.

The past few years have really reminded me how solo I am as a person. This has nothing to do with my relationships, but with how I face life each day. I face it with the knowledge that no matter what, I am an independent individual. I face it without asking for help because people throw what they do in my face. I face it stressed because I am constantly criticized after being praised, It goes back and forth. Nothing I do is ever good enough, so I’ve reached a point where I focus solely on my needs. I’m not a moron and I don’t need to be reminded of anything, especially when I am in pain.

Certain types of people want things they do not give. Respect. Courtesy. Decency. RESPECT. They demand it instead of earning it. Clearly, they don’t know what will work with me, but disrespect and demands will never get you anywhere. I’ll do what needs to be done when I can, but if you place pressure on me, I will snap. Now, more than ever, I am aware that snapping is the next step because I’ve disengaged so many times, and people assume I’m ignoring them. Please don’t mistake my silence for anything beyond silence. I’ve yet to plan a murder out loud. 😉 But man, do some people PUSH until you feel like maybe an orange jumpsuit wouldn’t be so bad. 😦 And please, don’t ever deign to tell me how to speak. I will say what I need to say when I’m ready, not less than half a second after you tell me what you wanted to hear. Genuine thanks comes from the heart and will come once I’ve collected my thoughts; they will not come at all if you try to coach the words. That leads you to, “Go fuck yourself.”, instead of “Thank you.” Obviously, this is a case-by-case basis, but I’m damn fucking tired of being spoken down to.

Tonight, I go to sleep without words. Wash my face, brush my teeth, say my prayers, and that’s the end of the day. Tomorrow, I will relive more of the pain and suffering, and hopefully get a few things off of my list. After all, in the grand scheme of things, we only have ourselves. Obviously, you can believe as you wish. That’s your prerogative.

copyright © 2021 by Lisa Marino & Poison In Lethal Doses, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Written work by author may not be shared or posted anywhere without express written consent from the author. Excerpts and quotes from the material also require consent. This authors’ work and personal photos are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws. Further protection is under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

I’ve Built…

It has always been important to me to be transparent about my shortcomings and the strengths. I don’t try to pretty anything up. Too often, people pretend their lives are so perfect online, with perfectly posed, edited photos, but you never see the truth of what goes on behind closed doors because all they care about is the imagery. That’s not what attracts me to people or to their work. Honesty and humor attract me. Real humor; the kind that isn’t forced, that isn’t passive aggressive, the kind that is wholly natural. It takes a lot to make me laugh. In the past week or so, I’ve maybe laughed four times. Each time, my cats came to see what was going on. “Is she having a stroke? Should we get help?”, they probably wondered. Of late, laughter hasn’t exactly flowed.

As an extremely private person, I still know that being forthcoming about my suffering (From A to Z) has helped others get help, come out of their shells, talk, trust again… I know this because they have e-mailed, messaged, and shared these facts with me, even if it took them a few years to say anything. I didn’t know my voice would help people, but it has and it will continue to do so, because I know the power of using your voice for change.

Wishing you all a safe, warm, stress-free weekend.

P.S. I will be listing charities ASAP who are helping out with the crisis in Texas. Every penny helps. It took our government way too long to respond to the need for help, and our own people were forced to endure this without an immediate helping hand. It’s disgusting beyond words. It’s Puerto Rico and Hurricane Katrina all over again, and it is NOT acceptable.

I know people who are 6-7 days without power and who have no clean water. Power is being restored slowly, and many are afraid of what will happen when they return to their homes. Will the pipes have burst (A much more common occurrence in colder climates.)? Will they be able to return home safely? They have no idea what they’re walking into. They are NOT prepared for the kind of weather they got. Never again should states be lacking a strong electrical grid, not have adequate salt, sand, and plows for snow removal, etc. This is not being discussed enough! I’ll do my part and hopefully there can be some unity in this country to help where needed.

This Is Important

People, too often, consider America the promised land. The ultimate goal. I’ve noticed, over the past ten years, people who’ve always believed this moving to Canada or the United Kingdom, instead. I can’t say I blame them.

There’s a lot of fucked up shit that happens here. Far more than most insulated citizens are aware of. This country isn’t perfect, nor is its leadership. That was proven this week while the rest of the world laughed at us.

For an incoming President, I’d like to see lower income families be taken care of first, even while you’re tackling Covid-19. Larger stimulus checks for lower and middle class families. They are the backbone of this nation. These communities are the ones that have lost the most in the past eleven months. We need to provide safe childcare if we’re going to demand they work harder, longer hours.

All across the board, the United States needs to do better. The world is watching. It’s time to do better, get better, and move forward in a healthier fashion. Because when I think of greed, I look at this country and I see it everywhere. It makes me sick and it adds shame on top of that. I’m still reeling from the events of this week, and I’m hoping we will move forward with less hate and more dignity. Alas, I know it will probably take the rest of my life to see that level of change, if not longer.

World Mental Health Day 2020

Today is World Mental Health Day, and as someone who discusses mental health throughout the course of the year, I come up short today. I come up short because I am dealing with my own battles, and they have been cruel to me. Hell, so have the people who are supposed to be “on my side”. Know this; the majority of mental health issues are fought silently, with no support at all.

I’m struggling. I’ve been struggling, and a few people close to me are actually offended/bothered by my speaking out about it. They don’t like the answers I am giving them, so I’ve decided to say nothing. There’s a gigantic, “Fuck you” elephant in the room, and I’m not going to ignore it or accept their bullshit politely. That’s not who I am and it’s not how I roll. If the tables were turned, there’s no reason for me to be a bitch or to be hurtful to anyone who is already hurting enough. I call that empathy and compassion. We aren’t ALL born with these traits.

Some people, by proxy, should have a more sensitive approach to mental health patients, especially those who’ve hit patches which required hospitalization(s), doctors, medication, and/or therapy. You don’t get to act superior to those of us who do not suffer from passing issues, but suffer tremendously with DAILY struggles. And quite frankly, you don’t get to dictate to me. Ever.

Only I truly know how bad I am suffering. I’m the one who asked for medication, adding on another failed drug which made me sick and caused me to need an additional week to get it out of my system. For most people, it leaves in twelve hours. It somehow built up in my system, in less than ten doses, to the point where my doctor and I were stumped by it because it’s not supposed to linger in the system.

I was prescribed something new yesterday, but the pharmacy is out of stock and had to order it. Moreover, my doctor won’t be in the office this coming week, so I will not get to speak to him until later this month. This may not seem like a big deal, but it is when you’re starting new medication and you’re slightly freaked out by it. I have valid concerns when he isn’t available, despite him assuring me that I can have the hospital contact him no matter where he is. I appreciate knowing this, but I feel like it’s only to be used in a dire emergency. I would never use it in any other fashion. Here’s hoping I NEVER have to use it.

Setting aside this one day for, “World Mental Health” is almost insulting. Suicide numbers are up. Prescription numbers for anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, insomnia, and commonly associated comorbidities are up. You can’t deny the facts.

At the start of my mental health journey, I lost almost every friend I had, including my best friend of twelve years. Many people acted like it wasn’t real, and if they did treat it as something real, they suddenly didn’t want me around them. Let me make something abundantly clear for the uneducated and ignorant; Mental health is NOT a communicable disease. If you will so easily revoke your love and friendship from someone, then you are far more beastly than what mental health does to millions of us solo.

This was a long time ago, but as I’ve been actively working on trauma over the past few years, things of this nature have resurfaced and hurt me all over again. I hesitate to bring too many new people into my life for precisely this reason. Instead of seeing me as a person, people tend to see me as damaged. I am no more damaged than anyone else. Life is not point A to point Z. There are twists, turns, shocks, emotions, pain, and surprises along the way. There are journeys no one but you can participate in. No matter how hard people try to project this false image of life perfection, there’s no such thing. There’s no such thing as the perfect anything. The word itself is both overused and improperly used.

This is what brings me to today’s reality; I genuinely have nothing to offer. Despite being voted “A strong voice for the mental health community”, sometimes I need to be silent. Sometimes I need to put my headphones on and hear nothing, but music. People communicate with me via text and Facebook messenger, and I’d delete both if I could most days. No one ever picks up the phone to see how I’m doing, because people are so wrapped up in themselves these days, and I don’t trust enough people to discuss any of this crap at length.

Last year, when I had to have genetic testing done to see if a medication was safe or not, I mentioned it in passing to another family member. This person didn’t bother to ask if I was all right, but wanted to know what medication it was. I didn’t provide an answer because our ancestry is so different (She does not have any of my maternal ancestry.), despite being related, and because she can figure it out for herself since it’s part of her job. If I hadn’t found the fine print on this particular drug, I never would have been tested. It is a medication for depression which requires a blood test if you have Far East Asian ancestry. I had to factor this in since death was a rare side effect for those carrying two specific Asian genes, but most people will probably never require this test. And really, if I share something deeply personal, I would think any normal person would ask how I’m doing. Alas, I’m trying to come to terms with the fact that few people have good manners. Or common fucking sense.

So, as World Mental Health Day comes to a close (from where I’m sitting), I’m going to take medication for anxiety, insomnia, and Complex PTSD. I am also going to include a few muscle relaxers because, as my migraine treatment wears off, it puts a heavier load on muscles in my face, head, neck, shoulders, and upper back. And I’m going to try to forge ahead, like most people who suffer and survive. We aren’t quite sure what we’re surviving for most days, but we do it, nonetheless.

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

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.

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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.

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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.*  

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

 

Reaching Out… What A Fucking Joke

**POTENTIAL TRIGGER WARNING**

I’ve reached a point in my mental health journey where I’m DONE. I’m not saying this lightly. I’m also not saying anything to seek attention. I’m just speaking. Period. It’s extremely important to be honest when discussing matters, such as this. 

I’m sick of people, their snide, ignorant  comments, the stigma of the uneducated, and I’m tired of all the excuses and bad behavior. I’m a human-being and I don’t want or need, “shiny, happy people” talking down to me. Who the fuck do some people think they are? 😠 At any given moment, you can be stricken, same as me. No one is immune.

In the past year, I have reached my maximum number of failed medications at around forty. Yes, you read that correctly. Forty drugs from the start of my original diagnosis, which was incorrect, until a month ago, when the final drug failed and made me wish I would just stop trying altogether. It was pointless. Perhaps I am, too.

I felt completely dead inside before starting this medication. I went into it 1000% unsure because I was preparing myself for the 50/50 possibility. This medication was an enormous risk. The failure of it made me sink. I looked around for quick sand, hoping it would swallow me up. I was, and still am, SO angry that this was other people’s “miracle medication” that gave them back some semblance of normalcy, if not restoring their lives entirely, but for me, it was yet another epic fail. If you heard me say this, you’d know I’m saying it flatly, with no inflection whatsoever. Speaking about it does not make me a “victim”; it just makes me extremely honest.

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I’m SO unbelievably sick of people saying, “I’m here for you.”, or, “If I can help, just ask.” 🙄 I’m sorry, did I just roll my eyes out loud? Yeah, probably.

If you’re, “here for me”, then I would actually be seeing you or talking to you semi-regularly. If you want to help, find something within your means and do it. I am not in the correct headspace to give you an itemized list of “things that will help”.

When someone has the flu, you might bring them soup, juice, magazines, etc. Things to help them feel better or things to distract them from how awful they feel. Or maybe that’s just me. Why do people need a guide for everything they can research? For all the advanced technological access at our disposal, people never cease to amaze me with their utter laziness.

I feel ZERO comfort in reaching out, and I’m so sick of the word, “No.” when I do ask for help. I’m constantly being told I don’t know how to ask for help. I do, and asking is one dead-end at a time. I have stopped asking because I don’t have the trust to offer up anymore. I am not going around begging for people to care about me or what I’m going through. Because here’s the truth; “reaching out” is a fucking joke. If a person cares, they will reach out to you. And if they don’t, you have to understand that the majority of people have their heads shoved so far up their own ass, they can’t see a damn thing. Their world and yours do not mesh, and that’s okay. Rid yourself of those who do not come into your life on your frequency. You’re trying to grow and better yourself, and sometimes, that means growing apart.

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In a world completely obsessed with social media, I decided to scale back quite a bit. By doing so, people did reach out to me, but ONLY so they could complain about things they’re going through. 🤦 It was very much a, “Are you okay?” and quickly became, “Because I have a lot to tell you.”, which made my head spin. It also made me angrier than a hornets nest after it has been kicked.

Why? Because the messages came from acquaintances, not my hardcore group of friends. I was put off by it, which might be slightly irrational, but I’m not going to sugarcoat how it made me feel.

If someone is expecting to see, “ALL of my posts” via social media, I’m mostly on Instagram these days. Some of those posts make it to Facebook, and some do not. It’s not the end of the damn world!

Whatever happened to asking a person directly, like a normal human-being? A phone call? A text? WhatsApp? Facebook Messenger? There’s more than one way to get in touch and stay in touch. Of course, you’d first have to prove you care and earn my trust to have access to my phone number for some of those methods of communication, but others are rather simple. 

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In the past year, I had a now former friend medication shame me. I was beyond suicidal at the time. I’m not sure if anyone knew, aside from my doctor. I wasn’t exactly shy about it, though. I was SO hurt by her comments about how I, “should stop taking that poison.” Yes, those were her exact words. If she tries to deny it, I have proof of her stupidity. I have her blocked on social media now because a REAL friend stands by you; they don’t judge.

This comment threw me for a loop. I read the initial message rule out in public, and I was incredibly insulted and hurt by it. Here I was, trusting her, and divulging something extremely painful, and she’s criticizing me. The ugliness of the comment is similar to telling a cancer patient to, “You should stop chemo. It’s poison.” 😠 No one does that though, do they? No, because they want their loved one to LIVE, to “beat cancer”. Apparently, people judge harshly when it’s medication they themselves have NEVER experienced.

Does anyone understand or realize that medication is often the difference between life and death for millions of people? I would NEVER tell someone to “Stop taking that poison.”, unless they were talking about street drugs, in which case I think we can ALL safely agree that it’s wise to get clean.

Instead of compassion, she showed me she’s an extremely ugly person, inside and out, which should have been the final nail in her coffin. Alas, when I schooled her, she didn’t apologize. Instead, she dug herself even deeper with her complete ignorance regarding depression and how it affects people. She went so far as to brag. “I’m ALWAYS HAPPY.”, she declared. Having written a character reference to a judge on her behalf, as she fought for sole custody of her youngest child, I beg to fucking differ, but I guess she’s not going to ever speak the truth because she refuses to see herself clearly. Denial is not just a river in Egypt. 😒

I don’t care what a friend comes to me with, they will NEVER hear me say, “I don’t know anything about it.” Let’s say I didn’t. On occasion it happens, but it takes less than ten minutes to educate yourself. That’s WHY we utilize search engines. Part of growth means constantly educating yourself. At least it does where I come from.

How is ANYONE over the age of twenty-five going through daily life without ANY knowledge about mental health? Please, elaborate. It’s 2019, and there are ZERO excuses for that level of ignorance. It’s inexcusable.

“Stop taking that poison.” Um, you admitted repeatedly that you guzzle down bottles of wine because you’re stressed, sad, not to mention, in compete denial of your true self, but medication is poison? Okay, wise one. 🙄 And by all means, FUCK OFF with your low level thought process. You’re not, “enlightened”; you’re fake and a complete fraud. I’m so glad to be rid of your drama, self-absorbed attitude, and your negativity.

Having me as a friend is something you should respect and appreciate because I don’t play games. You screw with me and my loyalty will become loyalty to myself, NOT to you.

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Another now former friend was self-harming and as a result, extremely horrible things happened. I will not disclose the deeply private pain shared with me because I’m better than that. Yes, I’m angry as hell and would cheerfully share her name, address, and phone number, but again; I AM BETTER THAN THAT.

I proactively encouraged her to seek help. I was constantly consulted for advice regarding doctors, therapists, and medication. I could go back into my phone log app and count EVERY single phone call I took when I should have been sleeping, because apparently MY well-being was never more important than her incessant dialing.

I called various mental health clinics (from across the country) to see if they took her insurance. That, my dear readers, is a TRUE friend. I’ve gotta say, no one has EVER tried to help me like that, and truthfully, I’m smart enough not to allow myself to get to that point of no return.

Everything changed after all my guidance, though.  I probably saved her life, but she thinks her part-time boyfriend is, and I quote, “Superman”. 🙄 You can think like that when you’re in single digits, but if you’re over twenty-five and have divulged an extremely abusive, manipulative, narcissistic relationship, one I witnessed in person, but you stay, then maybe, just maybe, you’re getting what you deserve because you aren’t smart enough to see things clearly, and you wrongly assume that a smart friend saying something about it automatically means that woman is jealous. Unless you live next door to a flagship Ulta, believe me when I say I’d NEVER be jealous of anything, and lately, even Ulta has lost its shine for me.

If you’re suffering, but have time to complain about how, “I gained fifteen pounds in a month.” because of depression medication, then maybe you need to sort out your priorities. I offered a list of medications where weight gain wasn’t a side effect. How did it turn out? I don’t fucking know. When a friend begs for your time and then blows you off, it’s perfectly acceptable to be silent until they apologize. It was her responsibility to make sure she didn’t permanently damage or destroy a long-term friendship. She didn’t make an effort whatsoever, though. That was her choice. Instead, she took the time one random Monday morning to “unfriend me” over a year later. Precisely who is the immature one here? I actually laughed. No one has to follow me on social media, and a real friend doesn’t announce it after years of calling you at all hours and pretending to love you like a sister. I decided this person was SO far gone that I wasn’t going to engage in the attention-seeking behavior they crave because she desperately needs this attention in order to feel “whole”. Except, the feeling is fleeting, and she will keep doing whatever it takes to get more. I should feel bad for her, but once I’m done, I’m DONE. I don’t give people the opportunity to come back, either. Friendship is a gift and a choice. If you throw it away, that’s on you.

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When I started taking medication for depression, I gained over 250 pounds in two years. It wasn’t from food, it was a side effect of drugs forced upon me, because hospitalization was always a threat if you didn’t take the medication prescribed to you. I underwent a lot of blood tests to show where my medication levels were and they NEVER reached “therapeutic levels”, mostly because they weren’t the correct medications for what I truly suffer from. I’m under 5.4″ and I’m a former gymnast. Doctors didn’t care about the weight gain, they just kept pushing drugs at me. Some of these drugs will threaten everything you hold dear before you finally put a stop to it. But now, EVERYTHING is blamed on your weight. Sore throat? You should lose weight. Ear infection? Well, you need to lose weight. Migraines? Lose weight. Unexplainable chronic pain from head to toe? I was told I should get down to “sixty pounds” to be pain free. Yeah, I’d also be dead, but the doctor repeated it three times because I gave him the opportunity to self correct his words. He just kept repeating it, like he was the smartest person in the world. I should have punched him in the throat.

Over the past eleven years, I’ve gotten closer to my goal weight. I KNOW I can achieve the final goals and have lifelong results/benefits, but I’m sick of women being negative over five, ten, fifteen, or twenty-five pounds. I understand it being frustrating, but calling yourself, “fat” is ugly and unhealthy for the mind. When people constantly do it in front of me, I automatically wonder what they say about me behind my back. Unlike many people, I don’t judge my friends based on looks, age, skin color, country of origin, education level, or weight. I’m selective; not petty. I treat my friends the same way I’d want them to treat me, and rarely am I treated as I deserve.

When I hear your self-talk and criticism, I question what you say to and about me.  I have about sixty pounds to go. It seems like a lot more on a smaller frame, but whenever I hear, “You REALLY have SUCH a beautiful face.”, it’s actually a backhanded comment about how I’d be so much prettier if I was a size zero. Zero isn’t a fucking size, not unless you’re a supermodel and play into that bullshit. Even newborns aren’t born a size zero! My NYC hair stylist disagrees with this, and once explained that my face shape (Which is oval.) is the perfect shape for a woman to have because it means every haircut will look good with her facial features. I don’t know that I agree with him, but he’s never tried to bullshit me. He’s also the only person I can trust to take me from my natural hair color to blonde in less than six hours. 

However, my main point is that you aren’t going to physically be 13, 14, 15, or 16 years old for the rest of your life. Jeez, I thought I was “fat” then, and I wasn’t. At all. Our bodies change. Our hormones change. We all age differently. But I’m not okay with hideous negativity and societal pressures. And I’m REALLY not okay with “friends” who have, “first world problems”.

Your health is your wealth. Weight should NOT be what you’re focused on when you REALLY need the medication keeping you alive. It can be a goal when you’re feeling stable, not before.

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I called my doctor late last month, wondering if he’d noticed that I’d cancelled on him. I legitimately do NOT cancel or miss appointments, even when I would much prefer to remove my eyeballs first. When he called me back, he said he trusts me to know when I need to come in and when I don’t. So, he clearly didn’t hear what I was saying, either. I won’t lie; I didn’t call him back because I was annoyed. I could easily slip back into not seeing someone for a year, or three. I told him that at my most recent appointment. Not only did he give me extra time, which he didn’t have to do, but he was in agreement with me about severing ties with a therapist who wasted a year of my life by being useless, and that’s me being civil. I’ve grown and I’ve changed, but she was not a part of any of that growth. I’m disgusted beyond words by her treatment of me.

I cancelled my final appointment with her because I knew I’d walk in, “hot”, and that means I knew my temper would flare into flames. I knew she could not accept the truth, so I decided that I don’t require closure in this particular matter. I decided that my sanity was more important than telling her what a useless sack of skin she is. I decided that insulting her and telling her how much her, “help” did NOT help, wasn’t worth me losing my temper. However, her one star rating on Healthgrades makes me feel better.

Will I go back to therapy? I don’t know. My doctor is going to do a deep search of all hospital employees and see who knows who. He knows if he screws up a third time, I’ll paint his office hot pink while he’s on vacation.

Have I reached out to anyone about what I’m going through? No. After recounting my father’s fifteen year battle with cancer to my best friend, who was unaware of all I’d gone through, I found myself in tears. I’m not generally an emotional person, meaning I don’t cry, unless it’s something serious, and even then, I might not. My reactions to things that bother and upset most people are not the reaction anyone is looking for, so I keep my mouth shut. And yet, I’ve written over three thousand words here, explaining myself when I don’t owe anyone an explanation.

Those of you who reach out with messages and comments, and thank me for writing things like this mean a LOT to me. If my words help you confront your pain, then that’s a positive takeaway.

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Ultimately, mental health is a personal, painful journey. It’s a road often taken solo, for obvious reasons. Support may come easy for many of you, but for me? Well, I’m lucky to be a force to be reckoned with. It was my mother’s wish for me, and my strength is deeply engrained in who I am. Sometimes, I just need to remind myself who the fuck I am and where I come from. Hopefully, someone reading this will understand EVERY word.

Also, we don’t lose friends. We simply learn who our TRUE friends really are.

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Copyright © 2019 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Written work by author may not be shared or posted anywhere without express written consent from the author. Excerpts and quotes from the material also require consent. This authors’ work and personal photos are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws. Further protection is under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.