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"I Tried So Hard"

Apr 08, 2014 - 4 comments

September 12, 2009, my third son, Davis, married his girlfriend of four years, who was pregnant at the time.  Their daughter was born 3 1/2 months later.

There were so many ups and downs during the pregnancy…my daughter in law, who is bipolar, borderline personality, and schizoaffective was not on her meds due to endangering their unborn child.  Bizarre behavior, irrational thoughts and depression followed by mania…the cycle continued.

When my granddaughter was 9 months old, the three of them moved in my house…upstairs with 2 bedrooms, a full bath, den and kitchen.  We were to live separately, but together.  My son was in college and we all agreed this would be the best situation for the time being.

It wasn't until they moved in that I came to know exactly how sick my daughter in law was (is).  She self medicated with drugs…wouldn't take her psych meds routinely (or would dose herself)…and refused to work with a therapist.  Michelle was diagnosed being bipolar when she was 14 but really had no one that had ever reached out to help her try and get healthy.  This became my goal…I wanted so badly for her to get healthy and for their marriage to work and for Madison to grow up with TWO parents that were still married.  I wanted this marriage to last, for Madison, so badly that I put her above everything else…even my son.  For some reason, when Michelle would get manic, she would tell me EVERYTHING that she had done or was doing.  I kept all this to myself, never once confiding this information to my son.

I was successful in "helping" Michelle, to some degree.  I made sure that she saw a psychiatrist, started therapy, and that she took her meds.  What I wasn't successful in doing was getting Michelle to help herself.

The next 3 years was a roller coaster.  Even though Michelle was on meds (and her scripts were changed many times), she was hospitalized in a mental hospital 7 times.  Nothing would work to stop or ease her manias from appearing and when she was manic…it was BAD news ! ! !  

I can't say that MIchelle was a "bad" mother because she wasn't a mother at all.  I basically raised my granddaughter while my daughter in law either slept…was staggering around on HIGH doses of benzos…was zombified because of her psych meds OR her simply choosing not to be involved.

While manic, Michelle cheated on my son with 3 different people.  First time, it was a lesbian relationship…second time was a few times with a guy she was in the mental hospital with…and the third time was with my son's brother…my second to the oldest who is a meth addict.  With this information in hand…I still didn't tell my son…hoping and praying that she would get well.

There is so much more to this story and I won't go in to details…but let me just say that her irrational thoughts controlled so much of her life.  There was the wreck because the devil was talking to her…chairs blocking the doors because someone was trying to break in…accusing me of molesting my granddaughter (because i was tickling her back)…meth use.  The one that about pushed me over the edge was when she came in my bedroom one day and announced that she had been having thoughts of wanting someone to come in and kill me…that she wanted me dead.  Still…I felt sorry for her and wanted to help.

I will never forget the day that my son sent me a text.  Good thing I was sitting down because I know that my knees would have buckled out from under me had i been standing.  The text read, "Do you think that I could get custody of Madison if I divorced Michelle?"  To me…this was the beginning of honesty…I would finally be able to be honest with my son about Michelle.  HE was the one who wanted a divorce…couldn't anyone ever blame ME for interfering.

I hired my son the best attorney around for divorce and custody.  We did exactly what she instructed us to do…following Michelle…recording phone conversations, etc.  The day came for Michelle to be asked to leave my house and I don't think it came as too much of a shock to her that Madison was NOT going with her.  My son was granted temporary custody until the custody hearing and divorce.

After 9 long months…my son is now divorced and has full custody of their daughter.  Michelle has supervised visitation.  Even though I know that this is the best situation for Madison, I can't help but feel sorry for Michelle.  

I tried so hard………………………………..

HUGE shout out to "teak" on the hiv prevention forum

Mar 01, 2013 - 6 comments

just wanted to take a minute to say "wow" and thank you to teak, from the hiv prevention forum.  he has PASSED the 1,000 mark of top answers.  the time that he puts in to that forum is admirable and the knowledge he has is unsurpassable.

thank you for all you do to help others...and a special thank you for being my BFF ! ! !

been thinking...

Jul 07, 2012 - 5 comments

do you live by the same advice that you give to others?


Nov 18, 2011 - 76 comments

A lot of people have been writing questions about early symptoms of HIV infection. Many of these people do not seem to have any risk for HIV, but may be having some kind of anxiety related to an encounter with a sex worker (or as in the case of question one, a strip club). Most have tested negative for HIV and are beyond the window period. They report a wide array of symptoms, some of them are very severe. I think it is also significant that many of them appear to have been reading a lot about HIV since the incident which caused them to worry. Since these people are HIV negative, it seems logical to see a connection between their anxiety and their learning about HIV symptoms. Some of these correspondents report this connection after reflecting on it. For example, they develop diarrhea the day they read about that particular symptom.

The history of psychoanalysis is full of cases of people with severe physical symptoms which appear to have no organic cause (i.e. their labs are all negative), and which persist until some psychological movement is attained. Some people (called hypochondriacs) have this illness their whole life. They become obsessed with every symptom and continually shop for a doctor who will take their illnesses seriously. The saddest part about this pattern is that, for people who invest a great deal of their identity in being sick (and, as a result, sacrifice a lot of their relationships, time, and emotional energy), it can become very difficult to accept that they are not sick.

We are challenged, daily, on the hiv prevention forum regarding "symptoms".   People come with NO RISK situations, but are convinced, without a doubt, that they are having ars symptoms.   When we suggest that their symptoms are nothing more than anxiety produced, they still have trouble believing that anxiety can produce very real physical symptoms.

Below is a excellent list of what anxiety can to someone, both physically and psychologically.  

Common anxiety symptoms include:

Body (anxiety symptoms commonly associated with the body in general):

Allergy problems, increase in allergies (number, sensitivity, reactions, lengthier reactions)
Back pain, stiffness, tension, pressure, soreness, spasms, immobility in the back or back muscles
Blanching (looking pale, loss of color in the face or skin)
Blushing, turning red, flushed face, flushed skin, blushing, red face or skin
Body aches, parts of or your entire body feels sore and achy, feels like your body and muscles are bruised
Body jolts, body zaps, electric jolt feeling in body, intense body tremor or “body shake”
Body temperature increase or decrease, change in body temperature
Burning skin, itchy, “crawly,” prickly or other skin sensations, skin sensitivity, numbness on the skin
Burning skin sensation on the face, neck, ears, scalp, or shoulders
Buzzing sensation in the feet, toes, hands, fingers, arms, legs
Chest pain, chest tightness
Chronic Fatigue, exhaustion, super tired, worn out
Clumsiness, feeling clumsy, co-ordination problems with the limbs or body
Cold chills, feeling cold
Craving sugar, sweets, chocolate, usual craving for sugar and sweets
Difficulty speaking, moving mouth, talking, co-ordination problems with the mouth or tongue
Dizziness, feeling lightheaded
Dizzy, feeling dizzy
Electric shock feeling, body zaps
Excess of energy, you feel you can’t relax
Falling sensation, feel like your are falling or dropping even though you aren't
Feel like you are going to pass out or faint
Feeling cold or chilled
Feel wrong, different, foreign, odd, or strange
Flu-like symptoms, general malaise, feel ill, like you are coming down with a flu
Flushed face, red face, flushed skin
Frequent urination
Head Zaps
Heart palpitations, racing heart
Hyperactivity, excess energy, nervous energy
Increased or decreased sex drive
Infection - increased infections, persistent infection
Mouth or throat clicking or grating sound/noise when you move your mouth or jaw, such as when talking
Muscles that vibrate, jitter, tremor, or shake when used
Muscle twitching
Nausea vomiting

Neck, back, shoulder pain, tightness/stiffness
Night sweats, waking up in a sweat, profusely sweating at night
No energy, feeling lethargic, tired
Numbness tingling, numbness and tingling
Numbness and tingling, and other skin sensations on hands, feet, face, head, or any other places on the body
Persistent muscle tension, stiffness
Pounding heart, heart feels like it is beating too hard
Pulsing or throbbing muscles. Pulsing or throbbing sensation.
Rib or rib cage tightness, pressure, or feeling like a tight band around the rib cage
Sexual Dysfunction, sexual uninterest
Shooting pains, stabbing pains, and odd pressures in the neck, head, or face
Shooting pains in the face
Shooting pains in the scalp or head
Skipped heart beats
Sore or tight scalp or back of the neck
Startle easily
Sweating, uncontrollable profuse sweating
The floor feels like it is moving either down or up for no reason
Tightness in the ribs or rib cage area, may also feel like a tight band around the ribs or rib cage area.
Tingling sensations, anywhere on the body, including the hands, feet, legs, arms, head, mouth, chest, groin area
Throat or mouth clicking or grating sound/noise when you move your mouth or jaw, such as when talking
Trembling, shaking, tremors
Unsteadiness, dizziness, feeling dizzy or lightheaded
Urgency to urinate, frequent urination, sudden urge to go to the washroom (similar to urinary tract or prostate infection symptoms)
Warm spells
Weak - feel weak, weakness, low energy, light, soft, like you may faint
Weak legs, arms, or muscles
Weight loss, weight gain

Chest (anxiety symptoms commonly associated with the chest area):

Chest tremors, trembling in the chest, chest feels like it is vibrating
Chest pain or discomfort
Concern about the heart
Feel like you have to force yourself to breath
Find it hard to breath, feeling smothered, shortness of breath
Frequent yawning to try and catch your breath
Heart Palpitations – beating hard or too fast, rapid heartbeat
Heart - Irregular heart rhythms, flutters or ‘skipped’ beats, tickle in the chest that makes you cough
Pounding heart, heart feels like it is beating too hard
Rib or rib cage tightness, pressure, or feeling like a tight band around the rib cage

Fears (anxiety symptoms commonly associated with fear):

A heightened fear of what people think of you
Afraid of being trapped in a place with no exits
Constant feeling of being overwhelmed.
Fear of being in public
Fear of dying
Fear of losing control
Fear of impending doom
Fear of making mistakes or making a fool of yourself to others
Fear of passing out
Fear that you are losing your mind
Fears about irrational things, objects, circumstances, or situations
Fears of going crazy, of dying, of impending doom, of normal things, unusual feelings and emotions, unusually frightening thoughts or feelings
Heightened self awareness, or self-consciousness
Need to find nearest washrooms before you can feel comfortable
Need to seat near exits

Head (anxiety symptoms commonly associated with the head):

Brain fog
Burning, itchy, tight scalp
Dizziness or light-headedness
Frequent headaches, migraine headaches
Feeling like there is a tight band around your head, pressure, tightness
Head, neck or shoulder pain, tightness/stiffness
Head zaps, head tremors
Numbness tingling, numbness and tingling
Shooting pains, stabbing pains, and odd pressures in the neck, head, or face
Shooting pains in the face
Shooting pains in the scalp or head
When you close your eyes you feel like are beginning to, or will, float upwards
Sore jaw that feels like a tooth ache
TMJ (Temporo-Mandibular Joint) - clenching of the jaw or grinding of the teeth

Hearing/Ear(s) (anxiety symptoms commonly associated with hearing):
Feel like there is something stuck in your ear, that your ear canal it plugged or blocked, that there is a pebble in your ear that you can't get out
Low rumbling sounds
Reduced hearing, frequent or intermittent reduced hearing or deafness in one or both ears
Ringing in the ears, noises in the ears, noises in the head
Pulsing in the ears, throbbing sound in the ear(s)
Tickle or itch in your ear that you can't seem to get at

Mind (anxiety symptoms commonly associated with the mind and thinking):

Afraid of everything
Altered state of reality, consciousness, or universe feeling
Brain Fog
Deja Vu, a feeling like you've done or experienced something before
Difficulty concentrating, short-term memory loss
Difficulty thinking, speaking, forming thoughts, following conversations
Fear of going crazy
Fear of losing control
Fear of impending doom
Feelings of unreality
Frequent feeling of being overwhelmed, or that there is just too much to handle or do
Having difficulty concentrating
Nightmares, bad dreams
Obsession about sensations or getting better
Repetitive thinking or incessant ‘mind chatter’
Short-term learning impairment, have a hard time learning new information
Short-term memory impairment, can't remember what I did a few days, hours, or moments ago
Spaced out feelings, feeling spaced out
"Stuck" thoughts; thoughts, mental images, concepts, songs, or melodies that "stick" in your mind and replay over and over again.
Trapped in your mind feeling
Underlying anxiety, apprehension, or fear
You often feel you are carrying the world on your shoulders

Mood / Emotions (anxiety symptoms commonly associated with mood, emotions, and feelings):

Always feeling angry and lack of patience
Dramatic mood swings (emotional flipping)
Emotionally blunted, flat, or numb
Emotional "flipping" (dramatic mood swings)
Emotions feel wrong
Everything is scary, frightening
Feeling down in the dumps
Feeling like things are unreal or dreamlike
Frequently being on edge or 'grouchy'
Feel like crying for no apparent reason
Have no feelings about things you used to
Not feeling like yourself, detached from loved ones, emotionally numb
Underlying anxiety, apprehension, or fear
You feel like you are under pressure all the time

Mouth/Stomach (anxiety symptoms commonly associated with the mouth and stomach):

A ‘tinny’, ‘metallic’ or ‘ammonia’, or unusual smell or taste
Aerophagia (swallowing too much air, stomach distention, belching)
Burning mouth, feeling like the inside of your mouth is burning, or tingling, or like pins and needles, or all of these together or at different times
Burning tongue, feeling like your tongue is burning, or tingling, or like pins and needles, or all of these, or all of these together or at different times
Constant craving for sugar or sweets
Difficulty swallowing
Difficulty talking, pronouncing certain letters or sounds, mouth feels like it isn't moving right, slurred speech
Dry mouth
Feeling like you can’t swallow properly or that something will get caught in your throat
Feeling like your tongue is swollen
Lack of appetite or taste
Lump in the throat, tight throat, something stuck in your throat
Mouth muscles twitching/jumping
Mouth or throat clicking or grating sound/noise when you move your mouth or jaw, such as when talking
Nausea vomiting
Nausea or abdominal stress
Numbness tingling, numbness and tingling
Stomach upset, gas, belching, bloating
Teeth grinding
The thought of eating makes you nauseous
Tight throat, lump in throat
Throat or mouth clicking or grating sound/noise when you move your mouth or jaw, such as when talking
Tongue symptoms - Tingly, “stretched,” numb, frozen, itchy, “crawly,” burning, twitching, “jumpy,” aching, sore, or swollen tongue (when it isn’t).
Urgency to urinate, frequent urination, sudden urge to go to the washroom

Skin (anxiety symptoms commonly associated with the skin):

Burning skin sensations, skin sensitivity
Numbness tingling, numbness and tingling
Skin problems, infections, rashes

Sleep (anxiety symptoms commonly associated with sleep):

Difficulty falling or staying asleep
Frequent bad, bizarre, or crazy dreams
Hearing sounds in your head that jolt you awake
Insomnia, or waking up ill in the middle of the night
Jolting awake
Waking up in a panic attack
You feel worse in the mornings
Sight (anxiety symptoms commonly associated with sight):
Distorted, foggy, or blurred vision
Dry, watery or itchy eyes
Eye tricks, seeing things our of the corner of your eye that isn’t there, stars, flashes
Eyes sensitive to light
Spots in the vision
Flashing lights when eyes are closed
Your depth perception feels wrong

Touch (anxiety symptoms commonly associated with touch):
Burning skin sensations, skin sensitivity
Feeling cold or chilled
Numbness tingling, numbness and tingling
Tingling, pins and needles feelings

Other anxiety symptoms are described as:

Being like a hypochondriac, muscle twinges, worry all the time, tingles, gagging, tightness in the chest, tongue twitches, shaky, breath lump, heart beat problems, head tingles, itchy tingling in arms and legs, and so many more.