Before the first of the year I went through a couple new medication changes and with that I have ended up with major life changes. Starting the first week in January was the first time in my adult life that the auditory hallucinations seemed to go away to a level where they weren’t negative. This was a major break through; it had been 25 years since I was not plagued with consistent suicidal and self harm ideations. Overall the decrease in the voices lasted for about 3 weeks. During those three weeks I thought I had finally found contentment in myself and life. It was probably the weirdest three weeks that I can remember having. It is very hard to describe my feelings, mostly how clear my head had become and how easy it was to react to different situations.
Then out of nowhere while I was driving home about a week ago my car was attacked by black bird like figures. Luckily since I have been dealing with visual hallucinations I was able quickly recognize that the figures I was seeing were fictional. Through breathing techniques and mindfulness practice I was able to just allow the hallucinations to run their course and continue my hour drive home. This freaked me out. If you have read my other posts you know that I have a very supportive treatment team that includes my wife. When I made it home I told Amber about what had happened and we did our best to laugh it off.
Since the major visual hallucination I am back to having auditory hallucinations. During my good three week period I still had auditory hallucinations, but the intensity was very low and the negativity was very subdued. It really sucks that the auditory hallucinations have come back, thankfully not at the intensity they have been in the past, but they have turned negative and at times suicide seems like the only option available to stop the madness. I have been dealing with the hallucinations by working on checking in on my breathing, and being mindful of the situation around me, and practice guided meditation. If I am still having problems I have a quick look at my list of values to make sure that I still fall within my values even during an episode. The last thing I ask myself is “am I in any danger?” If I feel that I am in danger it is time to move quickly through my safety plan.
Today I met with my prescriber of my mental health medications, and if my wife wasn’t there I highly doubt I would have been forth coming about what has been going on the last 5 days or so. My provider finally broke it to me that we may never be able to stop the hallucinations completely and it seems as if they will ebb and flow with life. This really hurt my feelings even though my therapist has been alluding to this for our last few sessions. What scares me is what happens if they don’t go away again? What happens if I never have a good week or even a day again? I enjoyed the three weeks of what it must feel like to be normal, I just want to be normal. I want to be able to handle myself in public situations like how I see other people, but the voices make it extremely difficult to be in public situations.
Since I am having to review my safety plan that was created with my treatment plan I feel it necessary to tell anyone that a safety plan isn’t just for suicidal problems, it can be used if you are having a bad day or if you are stuck in a route. For instance; Amber had become so frustrated with some personal issues and I was able to bust out my safety plan and I convinced her that she should take a break from the issue bothering her and I asked her to duet for a while (she plays violin and I play viola), we were able to play until she calmed down. So that proves that by just using my safety plan I was able to help my love in a time of need. I will share my safety plan here, but I will omit some parts due to privacy, but I will keep all the main categories.
Potential Warning Signs and Triggers
When I stop or want to stop typing to my therapist there is a good chance that there are problems starting, most likely it is well past the start of an episode.
If my talking slows down in topics and content (not speed of talking, more amount)
If I trust you just ask, I will tell you. Are you feeling OK today? Is there something bothering you? If I do not trust you, good luck.
Be leery of any spontaneous interactions with people outside of the small group. (phone calls, letters in the mail, any potential outside social disturbance/interaction)
Learning something new (youtube; mine the internet; car stuff)
Playing with dogs or cats
Connect with Amber
Going for drive with Amber in hot rods
Going to the mountain with family
Work on cars
Watch sunset or sunrise
Listen to music
Laugh listening to ducks/birds
Doing something nice for family
Mindfulness with sense
Fly a kite
People That Can Help with Distraction
People To Contact For Extra Help
Professional Agency For Last Resort
Closest inpatient care (include address and phone numbers)
Keys To A Safe Environment During Episodes
All guns have been locked away for years, so guns are a problem we have already dealt with
No driving alone
Keep cops away
No night time activities in the shop or by myself
Do not stop medication
Personal Reasons On Continuing Treatment and Life
Mission statement, something to remind you that your life is worth living
When my therapist recommended that it was time that I build a comprehensive safety plan I laughed, I just never figured how putting anything like this in writing would help me. But please let me tell you that I resort to my safety plan any more on an almost daily basis, especially when I am having an inner restlessness. I pretty much have all my fun activities memorized and when things are trending south I do everything I can to force myself into doing something enjoyable instead of listening to the chatter in my brain. I highly doubt most people will need everything I have on my safety plan, but I would really recommend building a list of enjoyable activities to resort to when you are having a bad day.