Surviving Is NOT Living

It always amazes me how often we view day-to-day survival as living.  Sometimes it is just easier to let our circumstances define the who, what, where and when of our lives.

As I look back over my 30-year struggle with Bip, Pots and the twins I still cannot grasp the enormity of what I have been through.  I don’t know if I ever will.

I Am Not Strong, Just Tired

Stress?!  What stress?!

What stress?!

How often have you looked at someone you admire and thought to yourself, “They are so strong.  I could never do what they do.”

Maybe we should ask a different question, “Did they know they could be that strong?”

People have told me all my life how strong and resilient they thought I was and my first thought was always the same.  “Really!  I just feel exhausted.”

Personal strength is not something we can measure within ourselves.  We will never know how strong we are until we are tested to our limits.

Decision Made

It is during these times that I had the same thought run in circles through my brain.  All I wanted was to lay down and just let everything run me over.  It would have been so easy.

I felt so soul weary that I did not know if I could stand let alone take another step. It is at these times in our life that we are required to not only decide to move forward, but we must follow the decision with action.

I was not about to let life, circumstances, people who were abusive or my personal demons dictate where my life went.  I knew what I wanted, I knew that people depended on me and I was determined to prove them all wrong.

It’s not like I’m stubborn or contrary.  Well, yes, I really am.  If you tell me I have to or cannot do something I tend to feel the need (very strongly) to prove you wrong.

I had made a decision and the only thing left to do was follow through.

Why Aren’t You Dead

Bip, Pots and the twins (Ann and Nick) had finally gotten the better of me:

  • My anxiety had been at panic levels for months.
  • The insomnia was so bad I hadn’t slept more than 60 minutes a day in 28 days.
  • My brain was constantly running at top speed.
  • I was not eating because food made me physically ill.
  • My hands shook so badly I could barely feed myself.
  • I had constant head aches and chest pains.
  • I had started passing out.
  • Suicidal thoughts were becoming impossible to ignore.
  • I couldn’t stop crying.

It was at this point that I was admitted to the psychiatric ward in our local hospital.

LaRiviere4 March 1998This is where I was asked the above question by the doctor.  Apparently, everyone he had seen or known in my condition was dead.  Why wasn’t I?

I don’t think the answer I gave was what he was expecting.  I said, “For my children I will do anything.  Even live.”


The five medications that they put me on were strong and I was at the maximum dose of some of them.

Depakote:  This was to try to balance the chemicals in my brain.  I was on almost a full seizure dose, 750 mg.  Because it was so hard on my liver I only stayed on it for about a year.

Lamictal:  This is what they replaced the Depakote with and it actually worked better.  I am still taking 200 mg of this medication.

Zoloft:  This is an anti-depression medication.  I am still taking 200 mg.

Clonazepam:  This is a very strong anti-anxiety medication.  The normal dose is .5 mg once or twice a day.  I was taking 4 mg twice a day just to make the twins manageable.  It reacts in your body like alcohol so I was regularly drunk.  It also gave me peanut butter for brains and the hangovers were horrendous.

Seroquel: This was to help me sleep.  It helped a little, but not fabulously.  It also made me ravenously hungry and physically lethargic.  60 mg

Meclizine:  Because all the other medications combined tended to mess with gravity (I had vertigo), I was prescribed this medication.  I referred to it as my anti-gravity medication because it made the ground stay under my feet.  It is an antihistamine.

These were the medications I took for over a decade.  I should have been a complete zombie according to medical professionals, but this is what it took just for me to function.

Did it make any of it better?  No.  All it did was give me enough relief to function and get through each day one minute at a time.

This Was My Life

I thought that this was the best I was going to get.  I would live the rest of my life fighting each day to just get out of bed and put one foot in front of the other.

Why would I do this to myself?  Because I have children who need me.  They were my only reason for living.  If only I could live long enough to see the youngest one graduate from high school.

zombiesThis was not living.  This was barely survival.  I was, in all reality, the walking dead.

I was there physically for my children.  I rocked them, read to them, helped them with homework, attended school functions.

Mentally, I was long gone.  The only reason I know anything that happened at this time in my life is because I kept a detailed journal.

Saving Grace

This was where I was when Eleviv came into my life.  It was the miracle I had been praying for.

Eleviv gave me back myself and it gave my children back their mother.


My Eleviv Story