Rachel's Yard

| A New Continuation

(Continuing the series of making you fabulous with HomeKit.)

Not too long ago, we went to NorCal Night Market for a fun night, and unavoidably I was hooked to one thing:

me and my baloon

Just look at it! Balloon with an LED strip on it! Balls!

However, good things never last. Just after a few days, the helium has leaked to the point that it can no longer support all the weight, and the balloon has shrank:

sad balloon

Suddenly, I remember my trusted Raspberry Pi, and we are going to have so much fun...


Let's see if we can separate the child from the mother

(unintentional Trump)

led off the balloon

looks good to me

we don't need this transistor

The board has a three-stage switch: off, flashing, constantly on. We probably don't need the transistor anyway.

Let's do a quick and dirty test and see if our RPi can power it (off the 3v3 pin).

of course

Not a problem!


It sounds good in practice, now how is it in theory?

For the life of me I could not figure out how I broke the SD card, so I will have to make a trip to the closest Best Buy. While I was there, I saw something interesting:

best buy = bitlocker confirmed

Well, moving on...

Back home, I naively thought that the GPIO pin would have enough juice to power all the LEDs.

Hahahahahaha.... Jokes on me. Switch a pin to high, and the LEDs are pretty dim.

Relay time!

soldering is my enemy

So, pretty standard relay. 5v + signal to control the relay, and the NO side is the 3v3 power (the ground is always connected).

With the help of a fellow Internet friendly tinkerer, using homebridge-gpio-device will now complete the circuit:

beautiful

pink strip in action


Fabulous

poor man's philips hue

(Yes, I used electrical tape, don't judge me)

For the sake of my own sanity, the social worker signed me up for Intensive Outpatient Program.

So far it's been very helpful. In small groups, we unpack, and everyone can be there to listen and help.

Anyway, the therapist and the psychiatrist both suspected that I might have a form of mood disorder, after hearing my background and stories.

...

Well, no amount of therapy would prepare me for my depressive episode, as now I call it. I can feel and see myself falling from hypomania to how I felt on the other Wednesday, where I've almost lost my will to live.

So, as soon as I got to my program on Wednesday, I asked my psychiatrist if I can get on medication, and yes, I'm now on Lamictal.

There isn't a formal diagnosis of "Bipolar" on my medical records yet, but we all know that Bipolar II pretty much aligns with my symptoms.

...

Hindsight 20/20, looking back at myself again, it seemed pretty apparent:

  1. Even before my HRT (so I can't blame that on my hormones), I have times when I would stay up for 3-4 nights and non-stop programming. Dermail and SlugSurvival were the results of that, plus some other projects including Andromeda.
  2. Then, I would have days where I just do not want to do anything, and withdrawn from my friends and family and my surrounding.
  3. Worst of all, hypomania and depression can happen on the same day, and my friends are scratching their heads of why I'm so "moody."
  4. On top of that, I've made outrageous claims so outrageous that, Alex was surprised that I said those.
  5. Even my mom was surprised that I bought so many clothes and shoes as if money was unlimited.
  6. Plus, I talked so much sometimes even a person with the most patience would be annoyed.
  7. Last but not least, when I'm "down," I would have no self-esteem and contemplating self-harm, even though deep down I know that "I'm not a failure."

Needless to say, the cycling is pretty deliberating. I thought that it was just part of me, well actually, I thought that was me. In reality I wasn't well, it was just so happened that my "good performance" masked all the abnormalities.

On the other hand, now I have to distinguish what is really "me" and what is really my symptom. But as my therapist said, the core me is still me, that hasn't changed.

I'm hopeful that with the help of medication and therapy, I can manage my symptoms.

Gonna be a bit playful here...

applies to mental illness as well

Warning/Disclaimer

This post contains the topic of suicide, and reader discretion is advised. This post is by no means an endorsement of self-harm.

If you are feeling hopeless, the world is collapsing on you, or the idea of hurting yourself, please, talk to someone, anyone.

If you have to, call 911.

Also, this post is not meant to be uplifting. This is a post of documenting, not of therapy.

The post may contains unbearable grammar errors.


A Bit of Context

Background

If you are new to my blog, or this post, please first take a moment to read the post about myself.

Anyway, in June 2017, I graduated with an B.A. in Management Economics. Armed with my extensive knowledge (at least that's what I hope) of systems architecture and software programming, I was determined to change the world, locally. I worked for non-profits, and I worked for public institution, hoping that I can make a difference at organizations in those two forgotten (or rather, underrated) fields.

Stress

  1. However hopeful I was, I had to face realities. There's a technical/structural challenge that limits my ability to stay in the State. Therefore, for the past two years, I've been feeling hampered by that challenge. Everyday I wake up, I'm reminded that my days in the State are numbered, and whether or not I can stay, it is at the mercy of someone else.
  2. To me, losing control is almost unacceptable. I don't like to be drunk in public places, I don't like to be told all the times of what I need to do, and I certainly don't like to lose control over my destiny. In short, egoism.
  3. On top of that challenge, I'm also dealing with gender dysphoria (seeing a man in the mirror disgusts me), societal pressure (not passing as cis makes me want to cry: a "sir" is the quickest way to destroy my mood for the day), and familial pressure (hoping that with time my family would understand).

There are many more stress factors, but this post needs to continue.

Hope

However, I was delighted to learn that, my employer might be able to sponsor a visa for a position that they are hiring. Anyway, skipping the boring details of technicality and limitations, it was my best shot to secure 6 years of my time in the State. I've made some seemingly irrational decisions here and there and in-between, but at the end, I've put all, literally, all my hope on this.

Everything was seemingly fine, it was all but a waiting game.


What Happened? (Trigger Warning)

Desperation

About a month ago, I felt like I was losing the grip on hope.

The process took too long, and I found a somewhat fatal flaw down the road.

I was losing the light at the end of the tunnel.

I researched on methods of suicide, and I found this one method involving chemicals and fumes, and it was supposedly the least painful (out of all the obtainable options). Thus, I purchased the chemicals on the Internet, and I've kept them secret and secure, so no one else will find them and accidentally hurt themselves.

The Day of Damnation

The week of June 24 was the worst week of my life. I've never felt such lack of motivations to do anything. I felt like I was waiting for the judgement day to come. I've lost interests to things that I usually enjoyed. It was like hell.

However, June 27 was the worst day of all. I think it was the day that I waited for.

I received a phone call in the morning from my supervisor, and he informed me that, unfortunately, due to some unforeseen technicalities, the request was denied somewhere up in the chain.

...

I finished the phone call as calmly as possible, and I was quiet for a moment.

I cried.

I cannot find words, nor that I can describe how I felt.

But I cleaned up my room as best as possible, took the trash out, made my bed, and laughed uncontrollably for some reasons.

Then I proceed with the "plan". I printed a "WARNING" sign outside of the bathroom, made sure that other people won't barge in and be hurt, then chemicals, bathroom, fumes, and I sat there, ready to let chemistry to do its magic.

Realization

As I sat there and watch the chemicals reacted, my mind managed to play the Devil's Advocate at the most important moment of my life:

"Rachel, are you really ready to let everything go?"

...

I crawled out the bathroom, stayed away from it as far as possible, and I dialed 911.

Crying, telling them what happened, and please, don't come in, it's dangerous.

Lost track of time, but I think about three minutes later, I was told to open the the front door, and the officer asked me to walk outside, hands in the air.


The Chronicles of My Missing in Action (Stream of Consciousness)

Day 1 (June 27, Wednesday)

The officer cuffed me, asked me questions about if there would be threats to officers, etc. Within three minutes, two fire engines, five police patrol cars showed up, everyone was asking me different questions, asking me if I was doing okay, asking me what happened, etc, etc, etc.

I was shocked, not because of how many officers showed up, but because of what I tried to do. For some strange reasons, I was relieved that all of them gendered me correctly.

Though, I only had my pajamas on, no eyeglasses, not even shoes, and it was a bit windy, so I blamed that for my shakiness.

Ambulance inbound, and I was transported to a hospital nearby to make sure that I'm physically fine. It was about 2:00pm.

I was physically fine, then I was told that I will be transferred to a psychiatric hospital.

A nurse took some blood from me, and urine, ran some labs. I figured it was for tox screen.

Then it was waiting again. They are waiting for admittance, waiting for ambulances, etc.

While I was on my bed, there were security officers watching me, make sure that I won't try to harm myself or others. When the nurse ordered me lunch, I found the receipt kind of intriguing. It had specific instructions of "safety trays", "no glass/china", "plastic utensils."

My mind was empty. I was still trying to process what happen. By the time that the ambulance arrived, it was already 9:30pm. EMT told me that I'm on 5150 (later I learned that it was a hold for up to 72 hours for evaluation and treatments for psychiatric emergency).

By the time I was at the hospital, it was 10:00pm. Changed into the classic blue colored clothing, checking in my belongings, and I was brought inside (later I learned that it was the emergency unit, like the ER for regular hospital, but for psychiatric). Told them about my medications, etc.

Signed some paperworks at the admittance, and I was handed with a patients' rights handbook. I held on to it for my dear life, because it explained and answered a lot of things I had in mind.

If you didn't tell me that I was in a psychiatric hospital, I thought I walked into a morgue. Without my eyeglasses, all I saw was people laying down on lounge chairs turned into beds. A rough count gives me about 35 patients in the area, and 6 rooms (later I learned that the rooms were for patients who will be knocked out for quite a while).

It was a difficult night, especially after what happened. I didn't know what to ask or say or do, I didn't know how to position so my neck doesn't hurt. I didn't know how to deal with the sleeping with a bright light over my face. More importantly, I didn't feel safe, because it was a strange place. A very strange place.

Before I went to sleep, I was given my medications.

Eventually, tiredness won.

Day 2 (June 28, Thursday)

A nurse woke me (later I learned that they do it everyday):

  • Let me check your vitals (blood pressure, sometimes temperature, sometimes SpO2)
  • Do you know where you are? (8/10 patients didn't know)
  • Do you know what day is it today? (same as above)
  • Are you hearing any voices? Do you have any hallucinations? (1/10 patients)
  • Are you feeling any physical pains? (2/10 patients)
  • Are you having any thoughts of hurting yourself? Other people? (probably 1/20 patients)
  • (bonus question) On the scale of 0-10, 0 being the worst, how depress/hopeful do you feel?
  • (bonus question) Are you feeling ready to go home?

Medications.

Breakfast, and it was, fair to say, not very appetizing. I took a few bites from the scrambled eggs, and tossed the entire thing away.

Orienting myself around, without glasses, found the payphone, and I desperately tried to call Alex. However, the payphone only does local area code, sadly his number is not local. Feeling defeated, I called my aunt, and it was a relief that they already kind of know what happened. Called Tiffany, and found out that she came to my house, surprised to see me nowhere, all the windows opened, panicked and contacted Alex, they panicked and called 911 and walking backward to slowly figure out the hospital. Then they went to the Sheriff to get a better idea of what happened.

Anyway, to kill time, I asked for a Bible so I can read.

There was a nurse, let's call him B, who came and tried to talk me about things, and I tried my best to explain the concept and the things around transgender people. He exclaimed that, "I've never talked to a trans like this before." Let's not worry about the correctness for now, I thought to myself. Plus, he offered some of his life experience related to my stress, and I found it very helpful.

Then my assigned nurse, let's call her T, came and interviewed me a bit. She was very cheerful, and that kind of gave me hope.

Lunch, uneventful.

No doctor was assigned to me yet. You know, it's the ER after all.

I sat there, sometimes read the Bible, sometimes observe the people around me.

There were people screaming, banging, and yelling.

I remained very quiet and calm, because I didn't want to be visible.

Though, to my surprise, my nurse was moving me out of the noisy area (later I learned that it was called zone 1), to the area with less patients (zone 2). It was supposedly for more calm and non-threatening patients.

I was moved into a shared room, and continued to have an uneventful afternoon.

Different nurse was assigned to me this time.

Uneventful dinner.

Later, nurse shift change, and I was asked to move out of the room and into the lobby area. I was told that the room was for female, but I figured that because I was a high risk patient.

In zone 2, I've started to work things out. I figured how to sleep, I figured how to cover my eyes to sleep, and it was a lot more tolerable.

I can't remember if I was talking to other patients yet.

Medications.

Eventually, tiredness won.

Day 3 (June 29, Friday)

A nurse woke me, same questions.

Medications.

This day, however, I'm starting to feel more familiar with the place. It was a lot more comfortable to navigate around (within boundaries). I started to talk to nurses, securities, sane-looking patients, just people in general. It was a therapy for me.

For once, I felt like lunch was enjoyable.

However, it was also taking a toll on me. I got the false impression that I should be discharged soon, and seeing all these patients getting discharged right in front of me was, kind of like a terrible tease.

By 5pm, I was anxious. I stopped making eye contacts with people, and I tried to distract myself from my own thoughts. Then, my doctor, let's call her MR, came and asked me four questions, kept interrupting my while I tried to answer, and interrupted again mid conversation to answer a phone call, and never came back to me. No updates, no explanation, nothing.

It wasn't until later that I asked my assigned nurse, let's call her S, numerous times to find out that, my doctor would like to admit me into inpatient.

It felt like Wednesday again, but it was only sadness and hopelessness without the thoughts of harm.

My aunt came and supported me. I cried for a long time.

I didn't eat dinner.

Medications.

Eventually, tiredness won.

Day 4 (June 30, Saturday)

A nurse woke me, same questions.

Medications.

Okay breakfast.

I felt a lot better after a night of sleep, and I was starting to accept the fact that I might be here for a while. Therefore, I didn't feel anxious about leaving or not, but I just needed a doctor who will actually listen, no matter if they would discharge or not.

My aunt came again, she brought newspaper and, finally, my glasses. My eyes were open.

Fear not, another doctor, let's call her JG, came and talked to me, and she decided to put me on 5250 (from the handbook, it was a hold for up to 14 days after the 72-hour hold, certified by the doctor).

However, there will be a certification hearing to determine if I can continue to be detained, and I can appeal the hearing decision at the superior court. Thank you, Lanterman–Petris–Short Act. I love the judicial system.

But, on the up side, my assigned nurse, let's call her BW, was the nicest nurse so far, and I doubted that anyone else would beat it. Attentive, caring, just a very nice person to talk and interact with.

I was irritated that doctor JG cited "chemical imbalance" in my head and "synapses" something. I thought to myself, you could've just said "depression?" In addition, she cited "Danger to Self" and "Gravely Disabled" on the 5250 certification form. Although "Danger to Self" is arguable, "Gravely Disabled" is simply laughable (none of the criteria matches).

Also, JG didn't want to give me my hormones, "you will be fine."

Well shit, I won't hurt myself over that, but I need sex hormones in my body, hello????

Another doctor who doesn't listen, great.

Calling everyone that I know, updating. Oh, by the way, phones in zone 2 can call any numbers, yay?

I was told that they have asked my insurance company to find a facility for inpatient, or authorize the hospital so they can admit me and charge my insurance.

Talked to more nurses and patients, enjoyable lunch and dinner.

Medications.

Feeling disgusted at myself for not showering for 3 days, finally took the courage to shower. It felt like freedom.

Eventually, I felt asleep on my own.

Day 5 (July 1, Sunday)

BW woke me, same questions. Poor BW, she was having a 16-hour shift.

Medications.

Okay breakfast.

At this point, I've talked to at least 6 nurses, and I've talked to at least 3 other patients in details, up and personal. One patient was telling the nurse that, "she was being a great therapist." Well, I'm in a psychiatric hospital as a patient, so yeah I'm probably not the therapist you are looking for.

My aunt came again, brought me newspaper. Horrified to learn that there was a shooting at a press.

Doctor MR walked by, three times, same old face.

Great lunch. I felt like the meals quality was getting better the longer I stayed. Did I get used to it already?

Newspaper, magazines, Sudoku, more chatting and conversations, trying to make the best out of it.

Great dinner.

Medications.

Another shower.

Hope for the new day.

Day 6 (July 2, Monday)

A nurse woke me, same questions.

Medications.

Okay breakfast.

My aunt brought me newspaper.

Interrupted by another doctor, let's call him A, asking me questions and what not. I could tell that he was appearing to be calm and attentive, but his body language gave it away. He said that, he couldn't guarantee that I won't hurt myself as soon as I walk out of the hospital. I was thinking, well no one can guarantee that. In fact, are you going to lock me up forever then?

Water is wet. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

However, I was surprised to see my advocate, let's call her CL. She shared my viewpoints that they have no reasons to keep me here. Their "Danger to Self" justification is weak, I have not received any psychiatric medications nor any counseling or therapy, plus I'm not gravely disabled. What the hell am I doing here?

I learned that hearings are usually held on Tuesdays and Fridays, and Mondays and Thursdays are for touching bases (with patients). Wednesdays are for Capacity Hearings. She was confident that my case has a high chance of winning and I will be discharged Tuesday by the court.

Shit, life is good.

However, I was told that my insurance finally approved to pay for inpatient, and I was ready to be transferred. I had the best appetite since I was admitted. In fact, I had two portions, because holy crap I can finally sleep on an actual bed.

It's the small things that make you appreciate.

Watched The Interview from the DVD with other patients, had a great laugh.

Escorted to inpatient unit.

Hectic admittance, nurse in training, but it was all good.

Medications.

Another thorough shower to make sure that I look my best. Called my aunt and see if she could bring me some normal clothes.

12:00AM: I slept like a baby, best sleep of all nights.

Day 7 (July 3, Tuesday, Day of Discharge)

About 5:30am, I was asked to come out and get my blood drawn and urine sample taken. Right, I forgot the emergency room doesn't share information with inpatient.

Went back again and tried to sleep, then a nurse woke me, same questions.

Fine, I gave up. Get up and get ready.

Great breakfast.

Medications.

The nurse this morning actually came to me and asked me about pronouns and etc. She wanted to apologize if she accidentally called me "sir" this morning. I was like, you are fine, don't worry about it. Then we had a great chat as well.

A lot of free space to roam around, and you can actually go outside.

My god, seeing the sun again, feeling the breeze, it felt like freedom.

My aunt brought me newspaper.

Surprised to see CL again, had a great long chat. Even more surprised that she has 9 patients on her list to be represented, and it's only an 8-hour workday. I have way more respects for public servants now. Also surprised to learn that my doctors talked to the supervisor about my case, and they have no idea what to do with me.

However, CL told me that the doctor for me this morning, let's call him JR, was very reasonable, and she was also confident that he would discharge me.

During outside time, doctor JR came to talked to me. He was genuinely attentive and asking questions pertaining to what I said, instead of asking template questions. Then he threw me a curve ball: what can I do for you today? I took it too literally and he corrected himself, asking me again:

"Do you think you are ready to go home?"


July 3/4 Midnight

I'm writing this post at home, trying to get them out of my mind before they became too blurred to remember.

  1. Hindsight 20/20. I'm looking back at myself, and I realized that I was a walking example of someone who is heavily depressed. Even though I'm home now, I'm aware of my own sadness and depression, and actually actively trying to tell myself that, I need help, instead of trying to do something stupid.
  2. My mom and my friends both agree that they saw the signs, but I didn't want to admit, or just didn't think it was a big deal.
  3. Psychiatrist appointment on Thursday, wish me luck. Hopefully medications will help with my depressions.
  4. Life is good. #AppreciateLife
  5. Talk to people that care about you.
  6. Tiredness won.

Thank You All For The Support

Thank you mom and dad

Thank you aunt

Thank you Alex, Tiffany, and Taiki

Thank you my supervisors

Thank you all the kind nurses

Thank you all the kind patients, you are all normal and sane

Thank you, doctor JR, for actually listening to the patient

Thank you, judicial system

Most important of all, thank you, the Devil in my heart, asking the right question to bring me back from the death

Or, shall I say, God

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