Sunday, September 09, 2007

Sue the insomniac

Ok it's 4:30 a.m. here in Taipei. I have been up all night because I took a 4 hour nap yesterday. Ah well. It will take time to adjust. I am now 12 hours ahead of eastern time.

I am finally in a good place after feeling suicidal and ending up in a psych ward! I thought it would be a place where I could get HELP or SOMETHING. Well I did get something, but let me tell you, the mental health care in the U.S. in abysmal. I don't think things have changed much since One Flew Over the Cukoo's Nest . I need to read the book now. Truly it was similar to the movie, EXCEPT, I must say there were NO Nurse Cratchetts - the counselors were fantastic - one was even coaching me on how to get out. Even the nurse who checked me in thought I'd be out in no time (she knew I didn't "belong" there). Well, I was sent 75 miles from my cousin's house on a Saturday, after spending all day Friday in the ER. Things do not start moving until Monday. They do not let the patients out for supervised walks (unless you ask for "level one" as I learned and had to wait forever to ask the psychiatrist for it). Only 3 of us were given permission out of um, maybe 20 people?

The patients do NOTHING all day. They MAYBE have one half hour "group" session per day but they were pretty lame. The place was FREEZING - I didn't have any warm clothes and had to beg for a jacket (they have a room of donated clothing - mostly men's) from my roommate who hoarded all the warm clothes. She was elderly and very ill - not able to keep weight on, but don't worry she had a thick sweatshirt and wasn't using the jacket.
Our room was an ICEBERG so I slept (when I slept) with three blankets. My roomie was an absolute angel - and I am praying for her. She has dementia (a bit) and is an alcoholic.
She doesn't really remember how she got there (she did call 911). She told me she arrived without pants and that someone took her clogs. I don't think she was wearing them when she arrived, but I just listened to her. Poor lady was diabetic and incontinent.
She told me: "You have to tell me how you pull the toilet paper so evenly." So Sue, being a bit of a brat said, "Oh yeah - it's a real art!" OK that wasn't nice. I did in fact SHOW her my techinque though! Ok I know this is weird! Funny though.

I briefly saw the psychiatrist on Sunday. He said, "I read your note." WHAT NOTE???? (Later I figured out that the crisis counselor in Plymouth "fibbed" a bit to get insurance coverage because you have to be legitamately suicidal to get coverage! Which, when you think of it, makes sense). He told me, "ok, no more talk about THAT," since he probably realized that I hadn't written a note. He gave me the feeling that I would be dischargesd soon and that he would work on it "100%."

On Monday, my social worker told me that the plan was to discharge me on Wednesday.
I was told I would meet with the shrink (it's easier to spell that!) later that day. I was a BIT anxious to say the LEAST. I kept hounding the poor man and all the counselors that morning and afternoon. I was bugging out - even though friends told me to be cool and I would be released quicker. When the shrink finally saw me, he told me I was being irrational and that he would consider my case on a "day to day basis." !!!!!!!!!!!!
Oh man. I was just beside myself at that point. I didn't think God was listening to me, even though I prayed like a maniac.
BUT! Prayers were answered when my wonderful friends Prakash and Asha came to visit.
Prakash went to university with my husband in India. We haven't really been in touch for a long time though, but Sujoy had been in contact w/him when he learned I was in trouble.
Sujoy has the BEST friends (and they are mine now also, thank goodness). They are always there for us.
I was SO tired that night from not sleeping at all the night before, so I actually called Prakash and told him that I was going to sleep. So, I was in bed when a nurse told me that a beautiful Indian couple were there to visit - and asked if I wanted to see them. I jumped out of bed of course!
They were my only visitors during the whole stay (but I got a million phone calls).
I was ELATED and can't go into details, but I had been feeling EXTREMELY anxious/ guilt ridden for a "good" reason.
They stayed for an hour talking to me about Jesus. As a Catholic, I never really understood Jesus. They really enlightened me, and we prayed and I knew I would be forgiven. I finally had peace and faith that I WOULD get out of that place on Wednesday. Even though I told Prakash not to bother coming, he did, because "something" told him to come anyway. Yes, their visit really was an answer to my prayers.

After they left Sujoy (hubby) called and calmed me down. I went back to my room and wrote a 2 page "plan" which I showed to the shrink the next day. "Good," he said in his Russian accent, "I see you have a plan - I like that." He agreed to discharge me on Wednesday.

I was free to go on by 10:30 on Wednesday, but I had to wait until 8:00 pm for Prakash to pick me up on his way back from a business trip in Maine. That was the LONGEST day of my life!

I tried to play "matchmaker" while I was there. There was a severly depressed older man there who only talked to my sweet roommate. I always ate with my roommate but one day I asked if he would like to eat with her. (She was so weak that she couldn't carry her tray from the shelves where the food was delivered, so I always got her tray for her). He was so happy and smiled when I brought her tray over to his table. He told her that she was the only one who wasn't "role playing" which was probably true. I hope she's ok.

I learned so much from my stay - I am SOOOO grateful that I AM sane and my brain is now functioning fully. I pray for those poor patients every day. It was SO depressing seeing people in that state (I could relate to some of them though). I was anxious/irrational at my cousin's for a number of reasons- a huge one being coming off of presrcibed drugs such as steroids, painkillers and 12 hours worth of anesthesia. Imagine the toxins floating around my body. The OTHER reason is my own - I was so restless. I don't have lovely crafty hobbies - I don't have any hobbies really! I love to read, but was too depressed and anxious to read. I don't watch tv
(except for a few choice shows). I cannot be a couch potato because...I can't! I used to be a long time ago though! I could only walk so was hard being in the middle of nowhere with nothing to do...but I am DO appreciate that my cousin TRIED to take care of me. She did her best and she's a great cook, but I needed more emotional support. I really needed my husband, but he couldn't stay any longer (he wouldn't get paid!) and Anjoli needed to start school.

Hubby and Anjoli had to leave for Taiwan on my birthday, on August 17th. We said goodbye, I put on my brave face....then his flight to NY got cancelled and they couldn't leave until August 19th. Talk about torture - having to say goodbye twice!

Anyway, this is very long I know and probably boring. I had such a nice, peaceful stay with Prakash and Asha. I ate YUMMY (mostly vegetarian) Indian food. Asha is a total health freak so she coached me with lots of remedies for depression and fatigue. We prayed every night - even their 11 year old son prayed for me every night. I left feeling spiritually, physically and mentally refreshed and renewed.

I had three good visits with my old friends who live in the same area as Prakash and Asha. Ursula was a doll and took me to a Renaissance fair in Carver, Mass. Her husband Frank is an actor in it every year. I was so out of it though and had NO energy. It's a wonderful fair. The HUGE favor she did was help me collect all my stuff from my cousin's house which was nearby (and very far from where I was staying with my friends).
My friend Miriam met me in Boston and took me back to her house in Newton so I got to see her husband, Frank who is a hoot. He is a (jazz and blues) music critic/writer and always has fun stories to tell. He gave me a cd of a famous folk singer (her writing was on the cd even) which hasn't been released yet. I better not say who it is - I don't want to get Frank in trouble! I like this singer alot, even though I only have one of her cds. Now I have two! I also spent a day with my friends Ashwin and Sonia and had a blast playing with their adorable 5 year old daughter. I tried to play this game with her. She is so smart - it was too logical for me (recommended age was 7-adult). I just couldn't get it at all- so I told her that I just had brain surgery - and she said "Oh I know," and she quietly put the game away. Very sensitive and sweet of her. She drew me a beautiful flower and made a "Happy Snail" tracing her thumb and part of her hand. Kids are great therapy.

[EDIT: Oh man oh man how could I forget my dear, sweet wonderful friend Laura who gave up a day of her life, risking life and limb driving around the circle of death at LAX. She was there when I got off my Delta flight at 10:30 am, and stayed with me until I boarded my China Airlines flight at 3:30 pm. What a gal, quelle pal. We had a delish lunch, of course Laura had to one up me with her "cheeseburger" sans the burger! Cute, ay? I wish her luck in her job search- I know she will land a fab job in the film biz soon. She has a cool media (music and film) blog now, check it out: LMS].

So here I am in Taipei -very happy to be here. In New England I was having mixed feelings about leaving the US. But home is where the heart is, and my heart is with my wonderful little family.


Tink said...

Jesus Sue. I'm so sorry that I didn't know and couldn't talk with you. The insomnia alone was enough to cause you all sorts of problems. Matter of fact, it's a good bet that it was the primary factor.

So sorry about the experience in the hospital. Sounds like a poorly thought out and run program. It sure gives perspective.

So happy that you found peace thru those friends and their love for God and Christ. God working through so many for you. Just so that you can see "him" working in you. I think you're amazing, still! So honest that it's refreshing!

Love you, love your family, and you're right about home being where your heart is. And that's usually with yer peeps.


Love to you and yours,

xo Tink

Tink said...

Oh! p.s.


May you now celebrate in style with the ones you love!


Suesjoy said...

Thanks Tink!!!
Aw don't worry.
All is welll, but I truly appreciate your support and thoughtfulness!
Love ya back!

Ronzi said...


What a story, I also didn't know you were having a tough time, but if I did, you know I would have done whatever I could to try and make you smile. Us Italians have a way of doing that, usually with food, but that doesn't work in this case. Either way, it sounds like you learned even more about life, spirituality and friends.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY (belated) I didnt know, mine is Feb 6th. You are with family now and a new beginning, but the power of BLOGGING is very evident here. You are halfeay around the world and we are just as close to you there as we were here.

You are a really cool person Sue, to know and to learn from . I have learned from you , truly. Here for ya Kiddo.. as always.

Love Ron

Anonymous said...

SUE!!! I had no idea all this was going on! You poor dear! And yes, the medication and all will make you nuts. It's a lot for your body to discard and at the same time have to heal. I used to think the surgery story would be the best chapter in your book, but now, I'm thinking this is it! Wow! Drink lots of water! I hope you know you can call me 24/7. Leo loves you and says you can call or VISIT anytime! We hope you find your balance with Sujoy and Anjoli in Taipai. You never did tell me about your hair! Love, love, and more love to you!

Lin-no-da said...

Sue: What a great heartfelt post.
I am sorry you had to grow through all that but you kow what they say, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, it is totally true!

Seeing stuff like what you saw when you were in 'the Ward' will get you every time. It is so hard to see but it really makes you appreciate your life, every little blessing in it. There are some people out there who have NO ONE to fight for them or visit them or talk to them about their family, etc. It is the same in nursing homes. So many patients that are just forgotten. That is one of my worst fears and it hit me even stronger after I lost my Dad, because I am not married and don't have kids I fear being alone when I am older or when I am sick. I am sure everyone thinks about it but people who have kids have someone that they KNOW will be there for them when they are older.

Anyway, you stay strong girlfriend!
Keep on keepin' on and stay in touch. The internet is an amazing thing and we are grateful to have it so we can keep in touch with you half way across the world!



Ronzi said...

I am single too, so we wont let you grow old alone.. We will open the WHO HOUSE for the elderly and rock on to the ether


L- Ronzi

Anne-Marie said...

what an ordeal you've just gone through! I am so glad that you've come out of it with the help of your dear friends, and that things are looking up.

*hugs* and good wishes sent to you!


grace said...

Wow! Sue, I had no idea. I am so glad to hear your are in a good place now, physically and mentally. And with your family.
What an ordeal you endured, sorry to hear all of that.
Happy belated birthday!!

take care, be well xoxo

lryicsgrl said...

You are a mighty spirit, Sue.
I had NO idea..... I thought you were recovering, elsewhere. As I read your tale (so well written, and NOT boring at all), I had to keep telling myself that this really happened, to my friend, Sue. It sounds as though your stay convinced you of your sanity (thanks god). Having just come off a narcotic myself (they made me naseous) which I had been on only a short time, made me depressed and anxious. SO, I can ONLY imagine how you must have been feeling (big HUG inserted here)
I am so happy that you have such close friends in Prakash and Asha. They represent the true power of love and faith.

I am glad you are where you belong, and I know you will be safe and sound.

big hugs and kisses to all of you!

Ahvarahn said...

I'm happy that this is behind you. Those places seem doomed to encourage the growth of insanity and I'm saddened by the poor folk there. Much of my childhood memories are filled with such places where my grandmother and uncle roamed and stared.

I wish you continued strength in your recovery. There is an exciting future in front of you.


BlackVelvetLace said...


You have been through so much, physically, emotionally and spiritually, and the details here fill in so much more than what you were able to say on the phone.

I'm so sorry for all you've had to go through, but think I am reading what you were trying to tell me (which I didn't quite catch) while your cell was cutting in and out- you have had someone clearly tell you about Jesus, and this has changed everything. Am I right??

::Hugs and hugs::

Bonfire Jones said...

Hi Sue, insomnia is very frustrating. I empathize with you.

Your post is quite compelling.

Glad to see that you are content in Taipei.

All the Best! Ed

Janice said...

Hello Dear Heart,

Well, if you aren't one of my most admired women!!

A journey to hell and back is where you've been ~ I knew it would be rough going, but, wanted you to stay focused on the positive. Like I mentioned previously ~ it's been a year now since my friend had the same thing and she is really doing well. Time really is the healer with this operation.

You sound so good!

I can relate to the psyche ward. I checked myself into one when my daughter was 4 months old. Back then they had no understanding of post partum depression. Spent two weeks and then I was released with "Sorry, there is nothing we can do for you". It was "primitive" back then ~ doesn't sound like much has changed. My prayers, along with yours, will be given in "their" name :)

Sweet Sue ~ you have "weathered the storm" ~ I am sooo proud of you.
"Love cures people - both the ones who give it and the ones who receive it".
You are certainly surrounded by love and heaven knows ~ you give so much love to all of us!

Celebrate every new accomplishment, and remember the Aesop fable ~ "The Tortois and the Hare" ~ just a step at a time:)

Is there an address you could share ~ I have a little something I wanted to send you ~ ~

You have been in my thoughts and prayers constantly and will continue to be.

Much love to you and your loved ones, Janice

Cathy with a C said...


I am so glad you are home with your family now - your new home - and I'm sure you will have it looking like home soon.

We don't do mental illness very well in this country, although I'm not sure other countries do well either. Break a leg, get a contagious disease, a brain tumor ;-) and the medical profession and friends/families are there to help. Have some unknown disturbances in your brain functions and people stay away as if they can catch it and the medical profession is playing guessing games, if they even try. There is so much we don't know about mental illness, but having insomnia for so long probably was the trigger for most of your latest problems.

I am glad that you have found some peace in religion and feel closer to God. Like you, I think there is a reason for everything.

Take care of yourself. Enjoy being with your family and your cyber friends and all the new friends you are going to make in Taipai. Keep blogging and tell us about your new experiences in your new country. And have patience in your recovery. I know it seems slow to you, but we are all amazed at how well and how fast you are recovering!

Cathy xox

Suesjoy said...

Thanks Ron, Chelice (yes Leo is my main man -any dog who licks my ears is a pal o' mine!), Lin, anne-marie, Grace, Sue, Paul, Lace, Ed, Janice and Cathy! Your kind words are MUCH appreciated.
It HAS been a long strange trip, I tell ya.
I have peace now, no longer struggling.
I am enjoying taking care of myself.
I got the entire 4th season of Six Feet Under so I am STOKED. I can relax and enjoy a few today.

I TOTALLY FORGOT to add that my dear friend visit Laura came to LAX on Friday for my entire layover, from 10:30-3:30.

I need to edit that in and add that she and her roommate now have a very cool media blog. So I will include the link in the edit. I have to shower now. Just got back from the gym! Feels GOOD!!!!!

Love you guys!!!

Suesjoy said...

And Cathy - YES -so true. The medical system is NOT holistically minded. All my surgeon said was, "yeah, it's common to be depressed after major surgery -especially for women. (Well the face paralysis would upset women more than men I would venture to guess).
I didn't have a primary care doc, so I was forced to beg/jump through hoops for some sleeping medication.
I was suicidal mostly due to lack of sleep. I still have tinnitus and that is the main reason for my lack of sleep, now that I don't drink or smoke ganga. Anyway, I thought it would help me get Ambien or something if I told my neurosurgeon I was suicidal from not sleeping but NO! They (naturally) take suicide seriously and said if I am depressed I need to see a psychiatrist. Well, no psychiatrist on the list that my insurance company gave me had any openings, so I was forced to go to the ER. They would only give me a tiny dose of Ativan. I didn't want Ativan, I wanted Ambien but I guess that is more of a narcotic, and I had a history of sent me to a day psych program wihich was TOTAL crap, so I went for one day only...argued w/ THAT shrink about antidepressants (I didn't want to take Effexor when I read the side effects- first one being "May cause suicidal thoughts." Nice. NFW was I going to take it, so I had him prescribe Lexapro which I had taken in the past and helped, but I went off of it after some time because I didn't like the feeling of having little emotion. There are no highs or lows on it.

I was TOTALLY unprepared for the difficult recovery. I am "getting it" now...learning to take it easy and not feel guilty about it.
Sujoy and Anjoli are a huge help so it's nice to be pampered a bit.


Ronzi said...

All I can say is , love ya!!!!

Cathy with a C said...

Sue - if you are feeling up to it, consider yourself tagged - 8 random facts and then tag 8 other bloggers. If it's too much, don't worry about it - most of us in this somewhat small club have been tagged by now. Some of my tags were already tagged by the time I got to their sites.

Cathy xox

Gary said...

oh my gosh Sue, I feel so bad for you. Norm is recovering well, he is taking courses at a local college and coming up with a plan on how he wants to proceed with life. When he was in early recovery, he had a lot of trouble sleeping, and got very tired quickly. It does get better, and my hope is you can recover much quicker. Each person's Tinnitus is different, mine flares up with stress, and you have had a lot of stress my dear, what with moving overseas and with the surgery. My rining is very high pitched and some days it bothers me, but not so much were I'm suicidal. I did read about others who were very depressed about the condition, so I'm hoping yours settles down.

You have your family there, and home is where the heart is. I reckon I could live anywhere on the planet if I had Cali and Stephani with me, although, her large Italian family would be very hard to be far away from.

I do hope you are coming back to the US some day. We could do another song. I have one I'm working on right now, the lyrics were written by a Woman named Alecia, a collaboration, and it don't sound right with a bloke singing it. It does sound like a hit though.

Well, take care of yourself Sue. The World is a very small place and here we all are connected by wire.

MargieCM said...

Sue, what a journey you have had, and what trials you have endured. The mental health system you describe sounds like a living nightmare, and a tragedy of terrible magnitude. I am so thankful you at least are out of that environment.

I hope now you are back with your family you can start to heal more fully, body and soul.

Take care.

LMS said...

You my dear... will ALWAYS be worth driving around the circle of death for!

gypsy noir said...

Just stopping by to read of your progress and stand back in amazment at all you have been through and come through..
You are one strong beautiful lady..x..

Suesjoy said...

Thanks Gary- so glad Norm is ok.

Yeah Margie - the things you have to do to get sleeping meds in the US! Jeesh.
That's ALL I wanted/needed. Not 5 days in a loony bin. Ah well, it DID make me stronger.

Laura you are a love. muah. I will miss you! Think of me when you see Ru at the HB!

oh Gypsy if you only knew me, but THANKS. I am half Irish, that's the fighting/silly part of me I guess. The Italian side is WAY too dramatic and passionate and gets me into way too much trouble...

Love yas!

gypsy noir said...

OMG!..I have Irish and Italian blood too!!..
What ever it is don't ever change, your fine as you are..

Suesjoy said...

Oh gee thanks Gypsy!
It's a volatile and interesting combo I think!

BallerinaGurl said...

ahhhhhh so glad to see you are feeling better about the trip afterall!

Hope you got my emails! Been uber busy here with the little ones new schedule. Might as well give her the High School Diploma at the end of the year, I mean HOMEWORK in Pre-School? Yikes!

Just thinking of you!