Author Archives: courtrundell
Am I sober if I’m taking psych meds? A lot of people have a lot of opinions about this topic, as do I.
I try to share my experience more than my opinion, but after what I’ve been through from sponsors telling me not to take my meds to people telling me I wasn’t “really” sober because I was taking meds, I have quite an opinion.
It is possible to be sober and on meds and even without drama. I know this now because I know my truth now.
A big part of sanity is being able to let go what people think of me. I had to or I never would’ve made it to the other side of 4 years of postpartum depression.
I got a great question about mental illness and addiction – does one trigger the other? This vlog is about my experience with my co-occurring disorders affecting each other. Hint: they do, but balance is achievable. Never lose hope!
The number one question we with alcoholism get is finally answered!
Such a great question. Here’s my story about my discovery that I do, indeed, have alcoholism.
Please share with anyone who will find this useful and stay rad!
I had postpartum depression for four years and it nearly killed me. I was hospitalized twice and I missed my son’s 3rd Christmas. It’s now been four years since my bottom and the difference in my life is nothing short of a miracle. A miracle and a lot of work.
Please share with anyone who will find this useful and stay rad!
I know, I know. It’s been a hot minute. I hope you’re having a most excellent new year!
Guess what I did? I started a vlog. I know I’ve attempted before, but this time feels different. It’s called Stark Raving Sober and it’s about being a badass with co-occurring disorders (mental illness and addiction).
Total transparency and I’m loving it. I hope you love it, too. My learning curve is intense so I can promise you that the quality of these videos will only get better.
Here’s the first episode for your viewing pleasure. Please share if you know anyone who would find this information useful. More to come… stay rad!
I’ve been hit by another storm.
It started with bronchitis and a sinus infection. Still coughing and barely off the antibiotics, I got the stomach flu. Not just the stomach flu, a 6-day stomach flu that turned into a 12-day stomach flu because of my lithium levels.
Right about the time I could finally eat a normal meal, my thyroid decided to get hyper. I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s in my 20’s and I’ve never experienced hyperthyroidism.
I lost 20 pounds and started having psychotic episodes. Did I mention I also have bipolar type 1?
I had to stop taking 3 antidepressants cold turkey, 2 of which I’ve been taking for over 3 years, and started taking an antipsychotic medication.
The last time I took an antipsychotic I lost my ability to eat and sleep, I chewed the inside of my cheek bloody and I ended up on a locked-down psych ward, so I was a little nervous about hopping back on that bandwagon.
But I did it. My son went with my family up North for 2 weeks because I was unable to care for him. I even missed a week of work, (which never happens). The antipsychotic side effects have mostly been major weight gain and sucking on my tongue and roof of my mouth (but not eating my cheek – huzzah!).
These are all natural parts of a storm. I know this now, and I accept it.
I’ve been in this storm for 4 months. I could be in it another 4 months. Or longer. And I’m actually cool with it.
All it took was a shift from OMIGODWHYISTHISHAPPENINGTOME into acceptance.
A few months before this storm hit, I realized that my life operates in 2 stages: smooth sailing seas or waves-slamming-against-rock storms. This is how my life has been for 44 years and I will never find peace if I can’t accept that this is how my life is.
And I don’t have to waste my energy trying to find a reason anymore.
I used to feel that God* was punishing me when the storms wouldn’t let up become I believed the storm was happening for a reason. After barely surviving 4 brutal years of postpartum depression, I no longer believe that everything happens for a reason. But I can find meaning in it.
After the storm has calmed.
When I’m in the storm, my job is to weather it. To accept it, to be in it, not to run from it, but to know it will eventually pass. My job is not to analyze it or try to figure out the big picture meaning of every fucking raindrop.
I have no control over the timetable of a storm; last time I checked I’m not God. It’s not a personal attack. It’s just the weather.
And there is a beginning, middle and end to every storm.
*This is me using a universal term out of pure laziness. God to me is just something bigger the my finite self. Animal playing a drum solo, the waves of the ocean crashing ashore, magical belly button lint. Whatevs – just not me.
I found my best friend in the direst of circumstances. In a layer of hell that Dante couldn’t even fathom. She was the light in the darkest of dark abysses an awkward freshman could ever imagine even existed.
. . .
PE was the killer of all coolness. No matter how hard I worked on my badass looks in the halls, PE was the daily reminder of that pathetic loser I was at Sparks Middle.
I wasn’t good at group sports that involved balls – with the exception of kickball, but I still had PTSD from the humping incident of 5th grade – nor was I good at singular sports involving balls.
I hated running, jumping, sprinting, relaying, racing, speed walking and the like. The only thing I actually liked was stretching, but not in the standard issue too short blue polyester gym shorts with hairy white legs and the world seeing my underwear.
The stupid glory-day-holder-onner-to ex-jock who “taught” PE would make us run laps until we sweat. Now this wouldn’t have been an issue if PE “class” was always last period, but lucky me, I had PE second period, so all that hard work doing my hair and makeup every morning was a tragic mess after only one class.
The school’s brilliant answer to this dilemma was having showers in the locker room.
Yeah, right. Like I was going to do the following in the whopping SEVEN minutes the school allotted for repairing the damage of Physical Education:
- Get naked in front of everyone. Sure. Sign me up.
- Shower. Naked. In an OPEN shower where everyone can see me.
- Shampoo and condition my golden locks and soap up my nubile flesh.
- Dry off.
- Get dressed.
- Blow dry my hair – completely.
- Curl, tease and Aqua Net said hair.
- Apply makeup.
Now, I was pretty awesome, but you’d have to be a goddamned superhero to pull that shit off in seven minutes. And it would have to be on a planet where I was totally cool with showing the world my vagina.
If being locked in a closet with a boy was seven minutes of heaven then this would be its evil seven minute counterpart.
PE was invented by some asshole jock who wanted the 90 percent of the non-sporty-spices to suffer excruciating humiliation.
It was a Monday morning, the most depressing day of the week. I was in the locker room spending my allotted seven minutes attempting to change out of my gym clothes without showing the popular girls one inch of my white flesh and – God forbid – a nipple, when I heard perhaps the largest belch in the history of the universe.
“Ewww, gross!” cried Katie Morgan, the most beautiful, popular, perfect girl at RHS.
I looked over to find the source of that glorious burp.
There she stood. Muddy colored boy hair. White skin. Tiny nose. Huge eyes. Even huger lips. Chubby. Standing there in her underwear, Denim jacket and tube socks.
Then she did the most amazing thing. Where I would’ve apologized profusely and blushed, she put her ginormous lips together and blew her burp breath right in Katie’s face.
I peeked my head around my locker.
“That was awesome!”
“Really? You think?” Her big blue eyes looked up at me.
“No one else thinks so,” her eyes were sad. I felt her pain.
“Wanna go to lunch?”
Then she smiled the biggest, most beautiful smile I’ve ever seen. Her whole face lit up when she smiled – it still does.
“I’m Carrie. Like the girl who got covered in pig’s blood at prom, only I haven’t been to a prom yet and hopefully that won’t happen to me if I ever go.”
And that was the first day of the rest of our lives.
I wasn’t going to go, but I didn’t know how to take care of myself yet. Then there I was, November 27, 2014, in a beautiful house full of mostly strangers, taking care of my 3-year-old while my husband had fun with his co-workers.
I was jumping out of my skin. Every minute was an hour. All I could think of was death.
The day before, I had finally made the decision to overdose myself into final sleep. I was done. I couldn’t take one more day, one more minute, in my body – in my mind – in my life.
I got in my car and headed toward death. The relief I felt was so great that I laughed out loud, which was a mindfuck in itself. Knowing I was going to die made me feel alive.
Then I saw it. The fucking Christmas tree lot setting up at our local community college. All at once the weight of 3+ years of postpartum depression, triggered PTSD, perimenopause and mismanaged Hashimoto’s came crashing back into my for-a-split-second-in-time light body.
The weight was unbearable. I stopped eating a few months prior because an antipsychotic had taken away my appetite completely. My body was so frail I feared my bones would crumble from the weight of the returning depression.
You will ruin every holiday for him for the rest of his life.
That was the crushing truth. My plans for freedom were destroyed. I had to stay here.
So I dragged my weak and sick body to Thanksgiving. For my husband. For my son.
The next day, November 28, 2014, I made the hardest decision of my life. I left my husband and son so I could get better.
My big sister bought me an airline ticket back home to Reno. Two of my dear friends came over, packed my bags and drove me to LAX. I was so weak, I don’t know how I got on that plane.
But I did. My sister picked me up at the airport. I had black circles under my eyes and all of my ribs and spine showed through my skin.
The next day, I was hospitalized for the second time that year. After I got out, I stayed with my sister and mom and they made sure I ate three meals a day.
I stayed for 5 weeks. My husband was considering divorce. I missed Christmas with my son. So many people were mad at me. I didn’t know how I would ever be a mom again.
But I was going to stay alive and be the best mom I could be.
My plan was to get an apartment. I was going to try TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Therapy) and if that didn’t work, I was going to try ECT (Electroconvulsive Therapy) and long-term residential treatment.
Even if my son had a permanently hospitalized mentally ill mom, he would have an alive mom.
I’m going back to that beautiful house tonight for Thanksgiving for the first time since 2014. I’m finally well enough to return. My husband and I have been married 14 years and we’re best friends. My son is 6 and in kindergarten.
And I’m a great mom.
To say I’m grateful today isn’t even skimming the surface. I’m not supposed to be here. I’ve been given another chance at life.
I’ll probably get triggered tonight, but I have the tools to walk through the feelings and have a good time. And I can always leave if I’m miserable. No one is responsible for taking care of me, but me.
And that’s true freedom. Happy Thanksgiving to you all whatever headspace you’re in. I love you.
I was really fucking angry yesterday and Thursday. I wanted to hurt people. I wanted to punch and kick and make people cry. For those of you who know me, I’m all about peace and love. So this feeling is fundamentally against everything I believe in.
I acted on this feeling a little bit and I owe an amends. I used to get violent before I stopped drinking 20 years ago and I never made amends for the wrongs I did during my rages. There has been a lot of improvement in this area.
At first, I assumed the few things in my life were not going the way I think they ought to was the cause of my anger, but then I started my period Friday morning. I rarely have had periods in the past few years, but when I do, they’re brutal.
See, I entered the lovely world of perimenopause at the young age of 39. Perimenopause is so misunderstood that spell-check doesn’t even recognize it. Basically it’s around 5-10 years of hell, (Scary Mommy describes it much better than I do), until we finally hit menopause, which means we haven’t bled for an entire year.
And then that’s a whole different joyride, by the way.
Some women don’t experience perimenopause symptoms at all. Some women die by suicide because it’s so unbearable. The rest of us are overweight, angry and randomly hairy.
I take low estrogen birth control pills to regulate my hormones. I took bioidentical hormones for a few years, but found synthetic hormones to be less activating to my depression and mania since I have bipolar disorder.
I also have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis which is another huge factor in this whole hormone game and should not be a side note, because it’s no joke.
Yeah, and I also have PTSD, which is by far the largest mental challenge of my life and I’ve never written about it, but I will. I promise.
Thankfully, I rarely experienced PMS or gnarly period symptoms for most of my life. But the second I was pregnant, my bipolar, Hashimoto’s and PTSD did not play well with my hormones. It took four years of painful trial and error before a balance of synthetic hormones, psych meds, DBSA meetings and TMS finally got me stable again.
And I stay stable by working my butt off in therapy and an entirely new 12-step program. And routine: going to bed and waking at the same time (almost), taking my meds at the same time (good friends are very aware of my 10am lithium alarm) and taking care of myself when I am not okay.
And I’m still not okay sometimes even while doing all this maintenance. Sometimes my thyroid is being funky. Sometimes my PTSD gets triggered. And sometimes my hormones attack me.
I experience manageable mania, depression and fatigue on a somewhat regular basis, but I don’t experience anger very often.
I used to love my anger. I mistook it for strength. It was an emotion I could handle.
Thursday night I was so angry I wanted to cry. And scream. And go on Facebook (nooooo!).
But I can’t cry. I wish I could – the release of a good cry heals. But I can’t – mostly due to my psych meds and disassociation from my childhood trauma.
I just get to the point where I really want to cry, but I can’t. It’s like crying blue balls.
When I was sick those four years, I cried a lot. The problem was when I started crying, I couldn’t stop. I’ve cried for three days before – I literally had to take breaks at work so I could go to the bathroom and bawl. I thought it would never end.
And yes, it feels like my body and brain chemistry are out to get me, but that thinking pattern is only going to lead me to self-pity and even more anger.
So this is how I stopped myself from going down the rabbit hole of rage (that would be a great band name) and doing some real damage to anyone within my screaming range:
- I paused. I admitted to myself that my body and mind are sick right now.
- I stopped the Facebook rampage I was about to go on that would only make me much more angry and would hurt people.
- I texted my husband and let him know what was going on.
- I happened to have a tattoo session scheduled so I showed up and am honest about where I am.
- And as the pain of the needle into my skin began, I thanked the Universe for putting me in the right place at the right time. I focused on moving the pain in my heart to the pain of the art.
- I asked her to stop after two hours because when I could no longer take the pain.
- I ate a healthy dinner and watched HBO with my husband.
- I went to bed on time. I took my night meds on time. I got a great night of sleep.
- I made amends to my friend who I hurt.
This morning I was woken up by my 6-year-old son and we’ve laid around in bed the whole morning, him playing on his iPad, me writing. I haven’t given in to the perfect mother in my head who knows too much screen time is bad for him because so is a screaming mother.
I still feel the anger lurking around me, but it’s not in me. I’m about to publish this blog that is way too long, but if you’ve read this far, comment “I LOVE CARROTS” and I will send huge love rays your way.
I feel release.
I know the rage is right there, waiting for me to get tired or frustrated, so I asked my husband to take our 6-year-old for the afternoon so I can take a big nap.
And that’s it for now. I love you with all of my heart. Thanks for reading.