I Now Consider Myself A Person With A Disability

Since my seizures began, I had heard from multiple people in my life that I should pursue being on disability. This was not something I could consider in my mind. As far as I knew, I was a able-bodied person who was able to work a 9-to-5 job like most people I knew in the work force. However, as the years have gone on since I began having seizures and have tried as best as I could to make things work within the positions I have held in that time, I have come to the realization that I am unable to perform like my coworkers were able to. I struggled. I knew something was wrong when I was in the Emergency Room twice in the end of 2014 and the beginning of the year in 2015 and was unable to return to work until I was once again “stable” and able to be in the workplace. So over this last year I made some decisions and came to the conclusion that I now consider myself to be a person with a disability.

My mental health conditions had caused much damage in my life towards the end of 2014. I was at the point where I had begun a working at a new job and was beginning to have problems while at work and in the waking hours of my days. I was hearing voices and hallucinating things that were not there. I was crying uncontrollably for no reason whatsoever. This was only the beginning.

With my new job, I had new medical benefits with Kaiser and so I took it upon myself to start seeing doctors to pursue a second opinion. My employer at the time was very concerned for my well being and was also very encouraging to find out what more I could do about my seizures seeing as I was struggling so with them. I started with my new primary physician and went from there to see a new psychiatrist where I was prescribed my very first depression medication along with an anti-psychotic drug. She told me that I was not schizophrenic as I had thought, but the visions I was seeing were coming from my severe chronic depression. I began taking the medication in hopes that it would all make things better. And so I started falling asleep at my desk while at work and was forced to drink things that would energize me which I had never had to do before in my life.

Things worsened with me and the amount of seizures increased and the symptoms got stranger. One night while alone in my bedroom, I had a terrible seizure which lead me to screaming and “speaking in tongues” or “talking in gibberish” as my family described it. They took me to the ER at once where they pumped me full of Ativan and sent me home once I was subdued. From that point I was taken off of the antipsychotic medication and my condition improved a bit and the hallucinations stopped and their were no voices in my head anymore. Oh and did I mention my neurologist signed a paper stating that I was to not drive anymore? I lost the ability to get to work as well, and so I had to rely on family until I was approved to gain transportation through OCTA Access. This is a wonderful program by the way!

Next thing I knew, I was headed in a downward spiral of sadness and I broke down in front of my shrink. I was delirious and inconsolable. She notified my work that I was to be put on immediate leave for the next few weeks and be put on disability benefits while she enrolled me in what they called “Intensive Outpatient Program” or “I.O.P.”. This program was meant to give me the tools to cope with my depression. The thing was, I had been in therapy before and had tried many of these things in the past. Upon speaking to the group’s leader, I found that I would not get the individual help I needed with my issues and my PTSD which I believe was causing my current meltdown. Go figure!

The weeks went by and though the group therapy was good for me, it wasn’t what I needed. I had to go back to work, or lose my job. Next thing I knew, I was working on a very tough new program at work and trying to get things back to normal at work when I had a bad seizure at work. One of my sisters had to come and get me because I was unable to be calm and was a jittery mess. She took me to the ER where they started running tests on me as I had another seizure in the car on the way there and then AGAIN while sitting in the intake chair speaking to the nurse about why I was there that day. They drugged me yet again to calm my nerves and body and I slept. Apparently I was there for about 10 hours and when I awoke they informed me that everything came back negative and re-diagnosed me with Conversion Disorder which is basic Hysteria.

Yet again I was at a loss. I had an answer which did not help my situation. When I followed up with my shrink, she told me to just continue on with the medications I was on and to see my therapist regularly. Oh, and they increased my depression medication to the maximum dose naturally.

Next thing I know, I am being let go at work just after accusing my coworker of harassment in the workplace. Great.

I decided then to take the summer to help out some family in Florida and be a caregiver for my elders for a while. Being stress free and out of work, I only had a few small seizures while away from home. A miracle? I think NOT. I was out of the stressful environment of being in a normal workplace. I was able to relax and do things at my pace. Or at my elders’ pace at least. haha

Upon returning home, I began looking for work seeing as my unemployment had run out. I got a job after 2 weeks of searching and got to it! Yet again, I was down. I was depressed and stressed and having panic attacks and seizures all over the place. What was I to do? I sought therapy once again through MediCal. I did the right thing. I found my current therapist who began working away with me on my PTSD and doing EMDR sessions with me. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is an integrative psychotherapy approach that has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma. EMDR is a set of standardized protocols that incorporates elements from many different treatment approaches. To date, EMDR therapy has helped millions of people of all ages relieve many types of psychological stress.



Through these sessions with lights and memories being processed together, I was able to go ahead and finally deal with my past abuses and face up to the fact that I am alive and well and able to live.

Sadly, this did not stop my seizures from occurring, nor did it stop me from having panic attacks in the workplace. Thus in April of this year, I quit my job and began filing for disability benefits. I have found that over the last few years, I just have not been able to perform very well at any job that I have held due to what is going on with me. The seizures, the panic attacks, and much more… It is all so difficult to handle when I am expected to be present at work for 40 hours a week and be high functioning at that. I have tried so very hard to do everything in my power to keep up my spirits and be the best worker I can be, but their has finally come a time when I know in my heart and mind and my body that I just cannot do things like some others out there can.

I am waiting now. I have been waiting since May for an answer. I can only hope that I will be approved for the benefits that I am in such need of at this point in my life. Family in my life has been extremely supportive of my decision, as have friends and my significant other as well. I am so very grateful to them all. The only support I am in need of now is from the government. My hopes are high, and my medications are increased as my anxieties are amped up like never before.

Now, I wait.


Florida Family Blues: Final Post

In the end, all the happenings and goings on in the household of my great aunt Carol and Hj made me very depressed and upset and I had a major panic attack one night and I was unable to sleep. I purchased my ticket to fly home just in time for my 27th birthday. This left me 2 weeks to tie up all the loose ends that I’d left hanging all over the place. I spent the day with my friend I’d made that summer and attempted to stay in her home until my flight time arrived. I was not able to secure a place to stay through her, but I was able to find a place through one of Hj’s friends whom had taken me out to Bingo a few times. I spent the night with her and she flipped out the next day and decided she was going to try to buy me another flight home to leave the next day. She was telling me that I needed to go home and show my mother that I was alright.

This was upsetting mostly because I’d been away from my mother all summer and she knew all of my plans the entire time and knew I wouldn’t make any rash decisions before letting her know. I had my reasons for remaining in Florida for that span of time and I had plans for it all. This woman was not about to ruin shit for me and so I took matters into my own hands and attempted to get help from my family in Tampa so that I could spend time there and be ready to fly home when the time came.

My last little stop before I left the town of Port Charlotte was to say my goodbyes to Hj and Carol before leaving. And of course to take all of my belongings I’d acquired over the summer and ship them home (I had purchased many souvenirs as well as items of clothing among other things). I made my way to the house over on Easy Street to face the music.

Hj was sitting outside in the sun when her friend and I arrived at the house. I told her I was leaving and she informed me that she was not surprised. I’d been discussing leaving with her for a time because I’d been pushing her to arranging a caregiver for her with all of her dementia issues and her stomach illnesses and I had done all I could I felt to help her. She told me she figured I was bored enough spending my days with a couple of old ladies and helping them out had drained me. I talked with her about how I’d panicked and would be going home shortly. I went into the house to gather my belongings.

I peaked into the Florida Room where the ladies spent their time watching television and looking out onto the canal just off their backyard where the small swimming spa was just outside the sliding glass doors in the room. My great aunt was lying on the small loveseat she tended to doze in most mornings after spending her nights awake due to her restless legs. She lay there now quite asleep. I made my way to the guest room which I’d made my home-away-from-home during my stay and began packing up my things as quickly and soundlessly as I could and taking them outside into the car.

Once I’d packed everything away, Hj and her friend told me I had to have a talk with Carol and say goodbye properly. I walked back into the house and woke Carol and told her I was leaving the house. She reacted defensively and began saying that she’d disappointed me. I told her that no, in fact she had not and that I felt that I had failed her. If I was truly the grown woman I thought I was, I would have come here and helped her as I’d promised from the start to do, rather than being an aid to Hj the entire time. Yes, I had assisted Carol in sorting through some of her papers and such, but I had been unable to help her sort through all her hoarded belongings and had been unable to sell anything. I had failed her completely and I felt it all the previous night when I had been unable to sleep. I told her that I’d been depressed all summer and had done the best I could to try to help her and Hj out as far as trying to convince them that they’d needed caregiving of some sort from a professional, but that all of this had been beyond me. I’d barely known these women for a mere 4 months. Who was I to them? A stranger. I had not felt like family to these women prior to my visit. I had short memories of my great aunt from the last time I’d seen her when I was about 6 years of age. This was the first time I’d met Hj and gotten to know her and basically the first time I’d had the chance to get to know my great aunt Carol.

I can happily say though, through all of the drama and heartache I’d felt over this summer of 2015, that I learned a great deal about these two wonderful, strong, women of this world. College graduates, feminists, and God knows just wonderful people in this world… I love them both. With all of my heart. I am so very happy to know them and have them in my life. Though they have always been far away from me, I know in my heart they are my family. I always will. They are there for me if I need them, and I am here for them just the same. I let them both know this upon my leaving. Yes, it was an upsetting end to the summer, but I honestly know that I left at a moment when I knew I had to remove myself from their home. I had spent time with them, learned about their lives, their struggles, their achievements… I was content in all this. I love them. I always will. One can only hope that family knows this. This is my hope. I love you Hj. I love you Carol. Know this. ❤Carol & Hj

Battle Scars Across My Shoulders

As a teen, I had acne. NO SHIT. Almost all teens get acne.

Having said that, I will let you guys know immediately that I will NOT be posting any photos on this post of acne. Yay! You’re saved from that nasty hormonal grossness that most of us have been through! So anyways, I had acne. BAD. I had it all over my poor reddened, pimple covered face. Also, I had acne on my shoulders and back. I had zits here and there and everywhere as most teens do. What I also had though, was something that is called Keloid Scars. A keloids is a growth of extra scar tissue where the skin has healed after an injury. This problem is more common in people ages 10 to 20, and in African Americans, Asians, and Hispanics. Keloids also often run in families. So basically on top of your scar, is another, puffy, welt looking scar, resembling a burn scar. Lucky me right? How did all this come about? Well it started with the acne naturally and then just turned ugly and permanently left me with little reminders all over my shoulders and back. Thankfully though, my face was left wonderfully clear! I have a story to tell, and it won’t be pretty, so here is my warning now, if you get squeamish like I do, leave now please to save your stomach the pain of having to endure this puberty-rich story, and I plan on using my most gruesome terms in my vocabulary of course.

So you know, around the age of 10 or 11 it started. The tell-tale little nasty pustules began appearing. I would scrub my face and put makeup over the things, but their was no stopping them. No matter what I tried to rid myself of them, nothing helped. And then…my mom caught me trying to hide something one day as I was walking wrapped in a towel from the bathroom to my bedroom.

“Sarah! What is that?” she said.

“Uh what?” said my stupid teen self back, acting as though I had no clue what the hell she was talking about.

She pulled my in by finally getting a good look at my face and shoulders and what I had been hiding was something that I never should have hidden in the first place from my own mother. I had acne not only on my face, but on my back and shoulders as well. It was bad to say the very least. My towel had splotches of blood on it from where I had the worst ones. I had to explain to her that they would bleed every time I would shower and wash myself because the skin was so very thin and would break open each time I’d wash. Each time I would dry my body off with my towel, I would rub them and irritate them further and the blood would get all over. Also, I ended up having to show her that my bras and t-shirts would get blood on them and would sometimes get stuck to my skin because during class at school, I’d be still for so long that the blood would dry and fuse the fabric to my skin. Each time this would happen I’d have to rip it apart from me. In high school it was a common thing to hug your friends, and yet for me this was not possible. I would always tell people to not touch me when they would lean in for a hug, or touch me in any way. Sometimes I became very angry because of this and would wear large baggy clothing to try and ease my pain and feel at least a little more comfortable with what was going on in my mind as well as with my body. I was in pain so often and told no one.

Upon my mom finding me out, she began by taking me straight to the doctor to see if their was something to be done about this bad acne that was causing so much harm, both physically and mentally. The doctor started trying different creams and ointments on me like “Retin-A Micro” and other antibiotic ointments. I felt like every doctor visit was something new to try out. Month after month, I went to my primary care doctor until I was finally referred to a dermatologist nearby. Same thing, I was to try out the external medicines and keep my skin clean with whatever was the latest cleanser for my face and back and yet nothing seemed to help. My mom was also trying her own little things on my skin like witch hazel and other natural remedies at home. Not a difference at all. This went on from maybe 7th grade into freshman year in high school.

When I reached about 15 years of age the dermatologist I was seeing decided to start me on an oral medication which was the strongest drug at the time in the world of medicine for acne and it was called AccutaneIsotretinoin (trade name: Accutane) is a powerful drug used in the treatment of acne. Four to five months of Accutane treatment usually leads to clearing of acne so they said, but in rare cases it could take up to a year and a half. The most damaging side effect of Accutane is serious birth defects if taken during pregnancy. It is critically important for women not to take Accutane while pregnant, and not to become pregnant while taking it. My dermatologist was to start my treatment as soon as I began taking birth control. AT THE AGE OF 15. I was then sent to a gynecologist for the first time in my life.

My Gynecologist was very nice and talked to me about sex a little and about the pill before she could allow me to begin taking it. I was also to undergo a Pap Smear for the first time and blood test beforehand to test my hormone levels and to make sure I was healthy and had no infections of any sort. Turns out my hormone levels were way off and this was cause for a majority of my acne problems aside from it running in my family of course. I was cleared about a week later and returned to my dermatologist with a clean bill of health along with my prescription for birth control, and each time I was to start a round of the drug Accutane, they would also have me take a pregnancy test to make sure that I wouldn’t be causing my child any defects should I get pregnant. I understood why everything was happening and I was ready to be free of all this pain and blood and ugly festering skin blemishes on my body.

All this and by my side was my mother, quiet and making sure I had all things taken care of and I made it to all my appointments and that I took all the right steps along the way. I began at last to take the drug called Accutane.



On the website of the Food and Drug Administration is a PDF Medication Guide for Accutane which states that: Serious mental health problems may occur. Accutane may cause: depression, psychosis (seeing or hearing things that are not real), and suicide. Some patients taking Accutane have had thoughts about hurting themselves or putting an end to their own lives (suicidal thoughts). Some people tried to end their own lives. And some people have ended their own lives.

Little did I know that I would be one of the ones who would be so affected by these side effects. And I was. I became very depressed and had many thoughts about suicide. I did not ever once self harm or drive myself to actually consider ending my own life, however, the thoughts were always there. I was on Accutane for a year and a half. My acne cleared. Eventually my depression did as well as I was helped out by my friends with this and because my pain was finally gone. I was able to interact with my friends normally once again and could allow them to touch me and hug me should they wish to. Senior year I was left with practically no acne and a smile on my face. But at what cost? Was it worth all the jumping through hoops to get there? Could I have outgrown the severe acne by myself?

My dermatologist finally decided it was time to discuss the keloid scars that had developed on my skin. The only treatments that were available at that time were injecting of the scars with corticosteroid injections one at a time to try and treat them, or send me to an alternate specialist to see what they could do. I did not want to go through the injections because they’d be painful as well as expensive. My mom took me to the alternate physician and he informed me that he could do nothing for me as he gasped in shock when I showed him my shoulders covered in the scars. He told me that their was an experimental study running in Los Angeles to do laser treatments to remove scarring such as this.

I looked him square in the eye and asked him “Would the laser treatment be painful?”

He told me that indeed it would. I immediately said no, and my mom and I left that doctor and never returned. As we drove from the office my mother began to silently cry next to me in the car. She pulled over and began sobbing uncontrollably and screaming at me that she wished their was something she could do to take the scars away from me and that she hated that I had to go through all that I had to come out with these hideous marks on my body in the end.

I looked my mother in the eyes and told her that I loved my body and that I loved her for trying so very hard to do all she could for me, but that if I was going to go to college in less than a year, I did not was to be sitting in class or at home and trying to be comfortable and be going through even more pain. I was done trying to rid myself of something that happened naturally when my body healed. I accept my body for what it is and I love my scars. I wear them proudly and she knows this now. I wear tank tops like anyone else, or dresses, or anything in which my scars are exposed and I feel perfectly alright. Thought I can understand why she is so low about such things, I think she has come to accept my decision regardless because I am very happy now. I am so happy with them that whenever someone asks me about them, I have a story to tell about my tough ride with my acne and what I went through to get them. They are my battle scars and I would not be myself without them.

Therapy Sessions and Onward!

So once I had my diagnosis, my job was to save up some money, and seek out a therapist all while waiting for my medical benefits to kick in during my probation period of 6 weeks. In that time I learned the ropes at my new job in Fullerton.

For the most part from therapy my goal was to get through my trauma from my abuse so that I could recover and get past the disorder that was so crippling that it was causing me to have these seizures, these episodes. After being so depressed that I was having panic attacks and anxiety attacks, and then the bouts of crying for hours for so long, I was so drained and exhausted from being depressed all the time. Therapy was definitely an outlet that I needed. I am not the type to rely on my friends to carry my burdens, so I felt that therapy was a necessity.

I sought out a good therapist and we began working on everything from my childhood and teenage years up until my current living situation, family, romantic relationships, friendships and work life. We were covering all the bases. However, when it came down to it, I was still having my seizures. I was taught in therapy to calmly think through my emotions and why I was feeling them. This was new to me. Usually if something didn’t feel right I would just remove it from my life. What I was now learning was the coping skills that I had never had in my life. I was taught to meditate and do deep breathing exercises and drink teas and do all sorts of mind exercises to help me figure out why situations made me feel the way they did. This is where I discovered I had OCD tendencies and also where I found out I had a condition called Dysthymia, which explained why I had chronic low-level depression. Chronic mental illness was not something that I had anticipated hearing about when in therapy, but I was glad to have learned about it so I could work on how to care for myself.

What I got from seeing my therapist was mostly help in my daily life. From what she told me about my PTSD was that I needed to find forgiveness in order to be healthy. That was not about to happen and so I avoided talking to my therapist about it any longer and saw her less and less until I stopped seeing her altogether. That was also due to the distance from my workplace had changed when I changed jobs.

In my next Blog I will discuss my next medical excursion when I was laid off from one bookkeeping position and got a new one further away from my home and much more fast paced than my previous position, and that is saying something!

State of Mentality: Unstable; Part 1

It’s true. The things my doctors have told me. They are true. I have a list of mental illnesses just as I’d always suspected, but had never truly accepted about myself. I’ve always sort of known that I was an anxious person; even as a young child I could sense that my unease around other people was probably a bit worse than everyone else was experiencing. Every kid hates getting up in front of the classroom to present a group project, or make a speech and have to say it in front of the entire class or school at an assembly. In my case though, it was the most horrific thing my mind could fathom. As I grew older and more aware of friends and teenagers and their thoughts on me and themselves and my schoolwork, it all just worsened with the years. In junior high it was dreadful to have to make a poster for a project and have to talk about it for just a few short minutes in front of a class. I’d shake and tremble in fear as the seconds went on and I stumbled through each part of my carefully planned out little poster, trying to remember each detail so I wouldn’t come up short on time. High school I did my very best to try and take drama with my best friend and even that didn’t help very much. I’ll admit it helped ever so slightly when it came to my good humor and making my sarcastic jokes more openly with friends, but I was still struggling with my anxieties.

As if things weren’t bad enough, I had the worst acne amongst my friends. It was so bad that it wasn’t just on my face, but on my shoulders and back as well. My mother decided to take me to my doctor who tried a great many creams and things on my skin, and from there they sent me to a dermatological specialist. This specialist knew that I was only 14/15 at the time and so before taking drastic steps, they too wanted to try creams and topical ointments on me. After trying the harshest thing for your skin at the time, the well-known “Retin-A Micro”, they found it to just not be enough. My dermatologist decided it was time for me to take the ultimate acne fighting medication out there, Accutane. Since this drug could severely harm a baby should one get pregnant, they also sent me to a gynecologist as well to start me on birth control to regulate my hormones on top of that. 15 years old and I was on “The Pill”. All I knew was that this was just another thing my doctors were going to try on me. This treatment was supposed to last for a year. It took a year and a half to heal completely and only have scars remaining. However, back to my mental health…

During this time, while on this drug called Accutane, it was not only causing chemical changes in my body, but psychological as well. Yes the birth control helped level out my hormones, but I was still a teenager and change was around every corner. Naturally, I was extremely depressed all that time. Concerned that a friend might hug me too tightly and that they’d make my back bleed, or that I’d be made fun of for having such gross little pustules all over my face. I had many a suicidal thought around then. It wasn’t all that bad mostly because one of my best friends at the time was looking out for me and would talk to me when I was feeling extra low. Not even my parents knew what to do with me. My mother would cry most days we would have a doctor visit thinking that the medication wasn’t going to work. Well, it did. I was left with scarring all over my shoulders and back. My face though looked glorious and clear of blemishes from then on mostly. Sadly as for the scars, I was stuck with them unless I decided to undergo injections of steroids, or painful laser surgery. Neither of which interested me at all at the time. It was senior year! I was ready to get the hell out of high school.

Eventually, as I struggled through senior year, I made it out alive, graduated with some honors and started up in college. Cypress College in fact. Didn’t quite make it through that first semester though. Towards the end I’d realized I’d taken on too many heavy courses and had to drop out of all of them as I was failing all my units. Also, I had a severe case of tonsillitis over that holiday season.

Through college I sucked it up and worked hard and even graduated. Though I did develop panic attacks. Turns out my anxieties at work and school were beginning to really hurt me internally and I wasn’t sure how to deal with them all. My job was not giving me much money and hours and so each day I would be driving my car to work and just dreading being there for the short hours that I’d be slave to my micro-manager of a boss. So I would hyperventilate and tremble and could feel the roof of my mouth tingling and my asthma would be really bad to the point I had to use multiple inhalers to save me from an asthma attack. It was such a mess…

A friend suggested I see a therapist. I did for about 6 months until I realized I was wasting my money and just needed to dump my boyfriend. Which I did. Also, I lost 55 pounds in 2009, and went from 218 to 164. I was feeling more confident than ever before and was fit thanks to taking kick boxing and belly dancing! Such fun classes by the way.

Sadly, the panic attacks were still happening. Then, something happened around this time. I had gone to visit family outside of California and was sexually assaulted by someone I had come to know very well thanks to a family member of mine. It scarred me for life and left me depressed for the entire year of 2012. I cried for the first 6 months of that year. Each and every single day I was crying for about an hour a day. I would have to pull over my car and cry and sometimes scream wherever I was. Or cry alone in a bathroom when I could at work or at home quietly to myself. Anything to get the emotions out of me. The shock, the pain and the betrayal. I have never felt anything more horrible in my life. I even got a new job at this point and stuck it out because I was caregiving for a friend’s family member. I would have panic attacks all the time and crying fits, but no one was around to notice and I did not reach out for help from anyone. I told just a few very close friends of mine and that was all.

I had a new boyfriend and things were looking a bit happier for me, so I thought. Aside from the occasional panic attacks and hallucinations. Yes, I said hallucinations. I’ll discuss this more later.

Finally, once I quit the job I had and found another bookkeeping job, something crazy happened to me. Something that has been happening to me ever since May 5, 2013.