A Blessing In Disguise – Unexpectedly Cut Off from the Internet!

Evening at Squaw

 The above photo of me & my girls was taken a couple years ago here in Squaw Valley.

 

 

Note to my readers – I’ve been out of town the past week with only a smidgen of internet access.  I won’t be back online regularly until Friday, August 22nd.  I’ve missed reading your blogs, and I’ll be sure to catch up with them upon my return!  

 

This has been a strange, heartbreaking week for many people and the ripple effect of this sorrow began on Monday.

 Last Monday I scheduled an innocuous-sounding appointment that I dreaded attending. It was my one-on-one session with Lucy’s puppy instructor Belinda. Yes, the same instructor who asked me to leave her puppy class due to Lucy’s incessant barking and aggressive behavior.

 I had been anxious from the moment I woke up that morning. My general anxiety and social anxiety have been much greater since I recently lowered the amount of my Seroquel medication. I tapered from 100 mg to 50 mg, a significant drop, and while I was relieved that my grogginess had dissipated, I was bummed about my heightened anxiety. My psychiatrist suspected that my 100 mg nightly dose of Seroquel had most likely been tamping down my anxiety; therefore, when I reduced the medication, my “hidden” anxiety would emerge.

 I hate anxiety almost as much as I loathe depression, and I felt grateful that depression had not reared its hideous head as well. I hoped and prayed that over time as my body adjusted to the lowered Seroquel, my anxiety would drop.

 To my relief, my session with Belinda went a lot better than I expected. During our time together she spoke with me about Lucy’s specific behavior challenges and how best to approach them. Although I felt anxious going into our session and I felt anxious leaving it, I was proud I didn’t cancel it, which I had been tempted to do earlier that day.

 I headed home with Lucy, picked up my daughter at her friend’s house, and looked forward to chilling out. After I walked in the door and settled down, I checked my email. That’s when I read the news – the news I’m sure you know about by now. I read about the awful fact that Robin Williams’ had ended his life.

 I’ve been a huge Robin Williams fan since the late 1970’s, ever since I watched him on “Mork and Mindy”. I grew up in Los Angeles, and when I was in my early teens, I stopped off at Vicente Foods, an upscale market. As I stood by the registers, I spotted actress Pam Dawber, the actress who played Mindy opposite Williams’ unforgettable Mork. Despite my living in L.A. I hadn’t seen many famous people, so that moment was very surreal and exciting for me. Unfortunately, she gave me a dirty look because I kept staring at her from twenty feet away. I was in shock, I think – I didn’t realize that I was being rude.

 The evening of Williams’ death, my mother told me she stood next to Robin Williams on her way into a taping of the popular television show “This Is Your Life” featuring the actor/ musician Dudley Moore. My father, a violinist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, was friends with Dudley Moore and he’d visit him at his Venice home to play music together. I assume that Robin Williams and Dudley Moore must have been friends, I imagine. (I don’t have internet as I write this, so I can’t verify it!). My mom noted that Williams was acting strange, most likely loaded on cocaine, alcohol, or both substances.

Last year when I was depressed, I went through a Robin William phase in which I watched him in a lot of different shows to take my mind off my depression. I took in my fourth or fifth viewing of one of my all-time favorite movies “What Dreams May Come”. It’s an amazing film directed by the brilliant New Zealander Vincent Ward in which one of the key characters takes her life, and has extremely heavy themes but has an uplifting ending. I rented some of Williams’ hysterical comedy DVD’s and I splurged and bought the entire season of his television show “The Crazy Ones”.

 During that phase, out of simple curiosity, I researched the internet to see if Williams had “come out” with having bipolar disorder. I couldn’t find anything official, but I didn’t do the greatest net search either!

 After learning of Robin Williams’ death, I cried and spent the rest of Monday evening in shock. Like millions of fans, I wrote on Facebook about my reaction. I received supportive, positive responses and I noticed many of my Facebook friends had written of their sorrow as well, especially bloggers in my Mental Health blogging community.

 Tuesday morning our family was out the door early, and headed on a long-awaited trip to Lake Tahoe. Driving through the Bay Area we listened to the radio only a little bit, as each news report began with the coroner’s report of Williams’ method of death, and we didn’t want the girls to hear it.  

 Williams’ suicide method hit too close to home for me, for I had considered using the same method as he did after I took the medication amitriptyline (Elavil). Hanging was a method I had never before considered in my life, even during other times in whch I had been acutely suicidal and had to go to the E.R. Without a doubt, I believe the amitriptyline made me want to hang myself. I’ve discussed this topic in more detail in my post “The Power of One Pill” and “The Green Bathrobe Belt” in this blog.

 So what to make out of all this? I don’t know. We thought we’d have internet access from our remote cabin. This is a special place that we’ve visited each year. Craig discovered it on Craigslist, appropriately enough, and we get a great, affordable rate. The owner likes us so much that she buys toys for the girls to play with. During past visits, we’ve been able to get online from this area, but the signal no longer works.   Despite my intense frustration, I know that my being cut off from the net has been my blessing in disguise.

 

Up to the first day of this trip, I’ve become dependent (well, addicted is more like it!) upon my daily habit of checking emails, reading blogs and being active on Facebook and Twitter. Being involved through these outlets has brought me some bona fide internet friends, some of whom I feel closer to than most of my “IRL” (in real life) friends.   Being unable to correspond with my internet friends unexpectedly and “cold-turkey” has been VERY frustrating and isolating.

However, if I did have the 24/7 internet access I’ve been accustomed to, I would be reading way too much about Robin Williams. Please believe me when I say I don’t mean to sound selfish, but I don’t think it would be healthy for me to do that right now, if ever.

 From just the few main facts I heard about Robin Williams on the radio last Tuesday, I’ve been deeply troubled and I have thought about his agony and the effect his suicide has had upon his family a great deal. There’s no need for me to read more details and read about others’ reactions to Williams’ suicide during this time in which I am more emotionally fragile than usual.

Last Wednesday, we drove to Squaw Valley. We hiked on a beautiful trail with Lucy, who loved being off-leash in an exotic, new location. Today we visited the gorgeous Sugar Pine State Park that sits along Lake Tahoe. This area is one of the most gorgeous ones in the world, and we are incredibly lucky to be here.

In some ways, it has felt healthy taking this “mandatory break” from my technology to focus upon nature.  Yesterday we stopped in front of Squaw Village with our laptop and my Kindle in tow, able to tap into a signal for a few minutes while the girls played together in the back seat without even one squabble.   (A true miracle!)

This is a working vacation for Craig and he needed to download some documents. While we sat there I hastily checked my email. I saw a plethora of Facebook notification messages about my friends and acquaintances’ reactions to Williams’ suicide. I didn’t read any of them as I would have done if I had unlimited internet at my disposal.

Each day I can’t help but think about the Williams’ family, and my heart goes out to them.   I know why he made his decision and I’d never judge him for one second for doing what he did. Since I’ve almost gone the same way I know it was not my fault nor was I “selfish” in wanting the worst pain I ever experienced to end. I only hope that he really is in a better place – that’s the only way that I can make sense of such heartbreak.

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20 thoughts on “A Blessing In Disguise – Unexpectedly Cut Off from the Internet!

  1. This is a blessing in disguise. Truly ! I have found on many occasions that being away from internet lets me focus on many other things that are healthy for me. I hope that you are having a great time and enjoying the beautiful place. Sorry for late comments as I am going through a down phase these days.
    love u

    1. Oh dear Z – I hope that you are rising up from the nasty-sounding down phase!!!!!

      I haven’t read any blog posts that my friends have written during the past ten days. I’m hoping that you may have written about what’s going on with you, honey!

      I have to admit that now that I’m home I’m totally overwhelmed with emails and other internet-related stuff. Being out of the loop so suddenly was too much. I wish I did visit a coffee shop a few times during our trip to catch up. Oh well. There’s no point in looking back; I just need to relax, right? 😉

      It didn’t help that a couple days after we got there I pinched a nerve in my lower back at an old injury site: a herniated disc I had over ten years ago. I was in major pain. I couldn’t work out for a week and I could only take Lucy on short walks. No wonder I feel crappy!!!!! :0

      At least it’s almost better now and I may try working out tonight. Sorry to vent! I don’t even know if you’ll get notified of this comment, LOL! Sending you lots of love and I’ll be thinking of you, hoping that you feel a lot better my dear friend! xoxoxox

      1. Hey Dyane I am so glad that you are back. It must be overwhelming the amount of emails and the internet backlog. Coffee shops are my favorite place to be any where I go but right no point in looking back. Just chill and enjoy being home.
        I am so sorry to hear about your back. Must have been hard not being able to work out for a week for someone who works out daily. I myself had an ankle injury which took 3 weeks to heal and now I am almost back on exercises. Oh and I loved it that you vented. It is always good. Thats what friends are for.
        love you chocolate ❤

    1. I wanted to have my cake and eat it too, Kitt. I wanted to avoid all that chatter about the wonderful Robin Williams, yet have access to everything else online. ‘Twas impossible!

      In any case, I am so glad to be back home despite the house being a massive mess of dirty clothes and clutter. Since we returned and I hopped online, I’ve been able to refrain from reading articles about Robin Williams. While that may change at some point, it feels good for now.

      Over the weekend I’m going to watch a movie Robin Williams starred in that got terrible reviews but sounded good to me – it was written & directed by David Duchovny (who I also like) called “The House of D”. I’ll let you know what I think after I see it!

  2. During my depression I kept a rope stashed under some corrugated iron in nearby bushland not far from a suitable tree for what then seemed the inevitable day I would need it.

    Seroquel may have been suppressing your anxiety but it’s more likely you are suffering withdrawals due to your reduced dose (anxiety is a very common symptom of withdrawal from dopamine D2 antagonists). You can expect it to subside over the month following your dose reduction.

    Most people on Seroquel take their dose at night due to its sedating effects. If that’s the case for you and your anxiety tends to worsen throughout the day you can be pretty sure it’s withdrawals. If it persists and you aren’t troubled by the sedating effect you might consider asking your doctor about splitting the dose to twice a day to keep your serum levels more stable.

    Despite the increasingly blase approach to long term prescription of dopamine antagonists it would be a good idea to try to minimise your dose and eventually come off them entirely. I’m sure I don’t need to list all the potential side-effects to you and not only do they tend to get worse the longer you’re on the pills, not all of them are reversible. Needless to say, withdrawal from any mood altering drug needs to be managed carefully. Tapering and support are the keys.

    I know nothing about your particular case but it seems reasonable to me to expect post-natal mood disorders to self-rectify over time as your hormones restabilise. However your natural tendency towards homeostasis can be disrupted or masked by medications.

    1. Can I just tell you that your comment is the voice of reason? I apologize for taking so long to reply but you know the reason for it. We returned last night & I am relieved to be home and plugged back into my addictive device, ha ha ha!

      My heart really went out to you when I read about your rope and tree….believe me, I understand that mindset all too well. I used to keep a “benzo bag” stashed away, which I turned into my psychiatrist when I felt that using it was no longer an option. I could have started up a small pharmacy with its contents. I am so glad you never followed through with your plan – the world is better with YOU in it!

      Everything you wrote about Seroquel made profound sense to me. I do take my 50 mg at night, by the way. I see my psychiatrist this Thursday and will discuss with him about splitting up my dose to help w/anxiety. Speaking of that devil, my anxiety is a little better today. I am hoping it improves over the next month. A few days after we arrived at Tahoe, I somehow blew out my lower back and it felt like a pinched nerve. I would be okay one second and then the next moment I’d experience a searing pain that made me catch my breath and freak out in agony. This happens every once in a great while. I have an old injury; a herniated disc, and ever since that happened over a decade ago when I lifted a heavy box up the “wrong” way, my back never quite healed. So, I was unable to work out every day as I had been doing here at home.

      Exercise has definitely helped lessen my anxiety to some extent, so to not be able to work out due to my back messed my mind up even more. I was tempted at times to return to 100mg Seroquel, but I’m hanging in there for now….and I think I do eventually wish to taper off it and only use it on a PRN basis for severe insomnia. (That’s how I started using it in the first place…)

      As of August 26th, next Tuesday, it has been seven years since my last child was born. I’ve been taking all kinds of different bipolar meds ever since then. If I need to stay on lithium and tranylcypromine for the rest of my days, I’ll do it. If being on them means a shorter life span, I’ve resigned myself to that as well. It’s not what I’d wish for anyone, but I don’t know what else to do.

      Anyhow, I hope this finds you doing well. I am honored you read my post & wrote such a helpful comment. I look forward to reading the post you published while I was in Lake Tahoe as well.

      take good care, oh drooly one!
      Dy

      1. I decided against all psychiatric drugs for my bipolar, but if I was going to try one it would be lithium. But I’d keep a close eye on my serum levels.

      2. Yeah, believe me, I do. I am on a fairly low dose and my pdoc is in favor of going as low as possible. I’m actually the more conservative one between the two of us when it comes to that concept! (This from someone who tapered off lithium in 2013 and wanted to be med-free!!!!)

      3. Oh yeah. I should probably also mention that I don’t have kids or a job or a mortgage or stuff so I can afford to let things get a bit loose.

      4. Hey, wanna fly over here for a little vacation and play Uncle Drooly, babysit a bit? 😉 (preteen-sit, actually, which is FAR more difficult!!!)

        We had a big spider make its appearance last night on the floor next to my bed, and I thought about your house/spider-themed post, which made me cringe. (Very well done, by the way! Very evocative!) I HATE spiders! I’m not the kind of person who gently takes one outside to spare its life. I crush the shit out of them!!!!

      5. God, seven years.
        I wonder how you’re supposed to know how you feel after that long.

        Whatever caused it to start with may be long gone. Or you may have adjusted to it. But you still have to adjust to what it did to you. And to what the doctors did.

        Maybe it’s a spiritual crisis.
        Not that I’m capable of diagnosing one.
        Or of prescribing a treatment if I could.
        The Horseradish Diet?
        Sleeping in a foil pyramid?
        Diving off an obsidian mountaintop into a cacti filled gully?
        Buying my book Seven Steps to a Healthy and Profitable Spirit?

        Maybe you’ve got some kind of San Andreas of incompatible assumptions built into you somewhere and your final child was just a trigger. Maybe all that shaking and collapsing was bound to happen anyway but the birth brought it on faster and pills help slow it down. I guess what matters isn’t so much when the shaking stops as what’s still standing when it does. Or what you do with all the space it makes. Never forget to dance;).

    2. Dear Neurodrooler Extraordinaire,

      After reading your last comment, it occurred to me that you are one hell of a gifted writer. I even got a bit wistful (okay, jealous) at the brilliance, creativity, sadness insightfulness and humor you wove throughout a mere blog comment.

      I hope you will write more. Lots more. I see a book in your future. I’d buy it.

      And now I’m off to eat a bowl of tasty, piquant horseradish, as it’s my first day on the Horseradish Diet! 😉

      take good care and don’t drool too much that you slip in it!
      Dyane

      p.s. by the way, you mentioned “San Andreas” which reminded me that we drove alongside the San Andreas fault last week. It was a section of a skewed, twisted-up mountainside that was very freaky-looking. My husband, a certified engineering geologist, was able to explain it to us in better terms. It was unnerving to see the full power of what Mother Nature can do just 20 feet away from our car.

      p.p.s. I had a *GREAT* night’s sleep in my new foil pyramid

      p.p.p.s. I won’t forget to dance. Thanks for reading & for commenting!!!

  3. Great post Dy. I too wondered id Robin Williams was BiPolar. And whether he was self medicating with cocaine? I really enjoyed his last tv series “The Crazy Ones” and think he was a perfect casting choice as the head of an advertising agency. It was a shame that the show was cancelled. Looking on imdb there are three movies in post production so we will still get to see the genius that was Robin Williams in new movies.
    I have read that hanging is considered a rather extreme way to suicide. Not sure whether there is any data to back this up.
    I also grew up on “Mork and Mindy”, the character of Mork having been created on “Happy Days” and then developed into a show to showcase the talent of Williams. One of my favourite movies of his is “Bicentennial Man” based on a short story of the same name and the novel “The Positronic Man” by Isaac Asimov about an unique android that strives to be acknowledged as human. I empathise that the android is deemed to have a broken brain, essentially “mentally ill”. Even though his unique skills allow him to be closer to human. It’s a great movie and worth a watch. I recommended it to a friend the other day who is a huge fan of Robin Williams but had never even heard of this movie.
    WIlliams’ life is a great loss and I still have to wonder what went wrong with his treatment? Could more have been done to save his life? Was he medicated correctly? As with yourself and me, I wonder whether a simple change in medication could have taken away that desire and need to die?
    I have heard the expression from various sources recently, that “suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem”. And I wonder if the temporary problem is simply searching for the right medication to take those suicidal thoughts away?
    Vale Robin Williams.

    1. Hi there dear Glenn! That’s great news that there are 3 movies of Robin Williams in post-production! I didn’t know about that. I’m glad you also enjoyed “The Crazy Ones”. Remember the episode where he hated the Aussie clients? That was so funny!!!

      I have thought a lot about hanging. Sorry to sound morbid, but once your brain goes there, you never quite get over it. I think (and this is TOTAL conjecture on my part) that hanging is an old-school form that people have used because it is more likely to work than the other methods. I could be totally wrong, but that’s my gut feeling. I think that a lot of brilliant, creative men *from his generation* tragically chose to go that way….

      I’ve never seen “Bicentennial Man” but your description of it makes me want to check it out on Netflix. I plan to see “The House of D” this weekend. I’m a big David Duchovny fan (he wrote and directed the movie, although it got terrible reviews, and Robin Williams stars in it.) and interestingly Williams’ daughter Zelda plays a part in the film as well. I’ve seen her in something that escapes me, but I remember thinking she was quite talented and beautiful.

      Since I haven’t allowed myself to read any Williams-related articles or blog posts yet (I’m still feeling too vulnerable) I haven’t read anything from his family (or in his own words) that officially states that he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Have you? I suspect his only “meds” were booze and cocaine.

      I’m a big fan of Carrie Fisher and I’ve read all her books. I love her take on ECT in particular although I’m a bit wary about how much she uses it, but that’s another topic for another day. Evidently Robin Williams went to her show (I think it was “Wishful Drinking”) and of course the subject of bipolar disorder came up. I *think* that Robin Williams participated in her show once, and he revealed that he met all her criteria for having bipolar disorder….but he denied having bp. Again, I could be totally off base with this one!

      Anyway, if you haven’t seen “What Dreams May Come” I beseech you to see it. Williams is so wonderful in that film, and the film itself is gorgeously acted and visually rendered. If you liked “Somewhere in Time” with Robin Williams’ close friend/Juilliard classmate the late Christopher Reeve, you’ll like “What Dreams May Come” as they were both written by the brilliant Richard Matheson.

    1. You are right, Vic – spot on!

      Although I must be honest (I’m sure you expect nothing but honesty! 😉 ) and add that ten days offline for the most part was too much of a break for yours truly. As it was sudden and totally unexpected, I felt thrown off. I love my habit of getting up in the morning and checking email/Facebook and then in the evening I enjoy winding down to enjoy my assorted blogs.

      We always had internet access before at the cabin….so yeah, it was frustrating.

      Anyway, thanks once again for reading & for commenting thoughtfully. I’ll be checking out *YOUR* blog very soon!!! :))))) take care & have a wonderful weekend!!!!!

      Dy

  4. A Blessing in disguise is a good way to look at it. You’re not selfish by protecting yourself from possible triggers or anxiety buttons. Glad to know you’re enjoying a well-deserved vacation. Hugs to you!

    1. You are totally in my thoughts, sweet Adrienne!!! I know you are gearing up for the 2nd surgery and I hope it goes super-smoothly!!!! Thank you so much for reading the post and for your comment. Hugs right back to you and your gorgeous hound! 😉 xo p.s. if you got this comment multiple times, please accept my apologies – I had a snafu occur with WordPress! :0

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