>I’m being somewhat cautiously optimistic when I say this, but at least for now, things are going well.
I spend 5 hours a day, 4 days a week, in a partial hospital program. The “doctor” in charge is actually a Phd psychologist, and she has put her heart and soul into this program. The psychiatrist spends at least 30 minutes, everyday, with every patient. He doesn’t just throw meds out left and right; he tells people to go golfing and to go to the library and get a book, and read it (not random suggestions, but ones that are specific to those people’s needs). There are two psychiatric nurses. I especially like one of them, who will make jokes with me and laugh when I joke with her.
There are 10 or 12 people in the group, but a few are missing on any given day. My favorite person from my inpatient stay, a mother of 3 teenagers, is there, which brightens things up. 8 or 9 of the people are bipolar, the others severely depressed. It leaves me… often confused. I don’t participate in 98% of the conversation. Today, we each had to introduce ourselves to a few new people; who we are, what brought us there. I told them my name but wasn’t sure what to say about what brought me there. Someone said, “Lydia is our comic relief. Not that what she says isn’t important, but she’s silent over there for 3 hours, then knows just what to say to crack us all up.” Glad I can help 🙂
Anyway, everyone there seems to think that the former BPD diagnosis was insane, and that autism is right. I feel validated by that. It allows me to say what I feel, which is that I’m not broken, I’m not “suffering” from anything. That said, my “treatment goals” are things like participating in the conversation in the group at least x times per day; staying attentive to one other patient per day and jotting down notes for at least 30 minutes; writing down the feelings that I hear mentioned and the contexts; getting to and from the program sucessfully on the bus (I took a detour the other day…); improving eye contact (currently by way of near-constant reminders); increasing time spent in the room with everyone (it can be near 3 hours straight… right now, I get up every 45 minutes-ish, go in the tiny ‘library’, turn off the lights and sit in silence. Then, I can go back and stand to listen again.)
I can’t BELIEVE how much they get it. They get it! They’re not making me “be” depressed or anxious or this or that… they are truly looking at where I’m at and what they can do to help. They helped me to create another new system for remembering chores that is really helpful. This is… wow. What great practice, to be in a situation where I can work on these important skills without too much pressure. Pressure makes things worse. It’s great.
That said, I am now also on Geodon… an atypical-antipsychotic usually used to treat bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. It is in the same drug class as Risperdal, which is frequently used to help people with autism deal with frustration less aggressively, but Geodon does not cause weight gain as Risperdal does. So far, I take it once at dinner, since I was losing it more evenings than not… and so far, only one outburst, which was in the afternoon before I’d taken it that day. So far, so good.