Socially Phobic

June 7, 2007

The past couple of days

Filed under: Bad Days,Depression,Drugs — iambrave @ 3:44 am

have sort of been a personal hell for me. The physical symptoms from going off of Lithium went away but the emotional symptoms, not so much. I had to go into work yesterday and that was fine, but as soon as I left I lost it. I pretty much cried for eight straight hours. Today was a bit better except for a massive explosion of anger after I got woken up from a nap – I don’t know if this is exactly related but have I mentioned that naps make me somewhat psychotic? I would really like to know if this happens to anyone else. I typically wake up in the midst of a hot flash and extremely hostile. Do other people get hot flashes when they nap? I should Google it. I really shouldn’t nap at all given my problems sleeping at night and the amazingly terrible way that I feel when I wake up but I just can’t resist the blissful way that it feels to drift off so easily in the afternoon because that never happens at night. I don’t dread sleeping during the day the way that I do at night, and I can’t seem to stop denying myself this guilty pleasure. But please remember this if you ever serve on a jury for a crime that I committed – I think that I could plead a very strong case for temporary insanity if said crime occurred within a post-nap period.

Anyway. I don’t know what I’m doing. My husband and I also had a Big Talk yesterday about the reasons that I am depressed other than the biochemical madness. The deal is this: I believe that we are both sort of obsessed with having a baby. This is sort of like true confession time, because I don’t talk about this with very many people. Before we got married, whenever I had a chance to make a wish I would wish for a baby. Since the wedding, however, I have grown increasingly more wary. It was all well and good when it was a wish and a prayer but since it has become something that I have been taking actions to accomplish and talking to doctors about the reality of it scares me. It has gone from an anxiety that my clock is ticking way too fast (pretty irrational, given my age (28), and didn’t I just read that a 60-year-old gave birth?) to well, we have a few more years so what is the rush (more rational, but it feels weird when one of the things that I have been obsessing over does a complete 180 in my head). There are money issues, logistical issues like I just finished my first semester of a program and would I ever go back, issues about the fact that, as a couple, we have yet to have a life together that includes having a group of friends that lives in the same city that we do and really we never go out at all anymore due to our mentally ill dog (a true but long story for another time) and so shouldn’t we have a life where we are free to go out as desired before we just can’t anymore, and then issues about the fact that the reality of me, having a baby, having to be on top of my shit, not wanting to raise a child depressed or at least ever show my depressed face to my child because I know from personal experience what it is like to be raised by a depressed parent and I don’t want to be that mom, as well as not having time to lie on the couch for 8 hours and cry anymore as determined to be personally necessary, plus I consider myself to be very irresponsible on the whole and I have yet to figure out how to make a budget or grocery shop effectively or keep the house clean (also things that my parents never taught me but that I probably should have figured out by now – I consider myself to be fairly smart but there are certain common-sense things that elude me – I basically need to take home ec for grownups). And that horrendous run-on sentence pretty much sums it up and I don’t feel like editing so hopefully it all makes a little bit of sense.

All right, you say, so perhaps you aren’t ready. Perhaps you should wait another year or two. Why not? Having a baby in my early 30s – so reasonable. The question, then, is this: what the hell am I doing with my medication? Why am I putting my body through this right now if we aren’t going to do this right now? Because while I do not like being dependent on things due to my abandonment fears (odd running image in my head that has symbolized this for several years now: being in a less-developed foreign country and not having any meds and all hell ensuing…to tell you the truth, I don’t even feel comfortable finding, say, the perfect makeup, because what am I going to do if they stop making Bare Minerals? How have I gotten through so many of these issues with human beings yet hold onto them so strongly with inanimate objects, if you can classify a medication as such?), the truth is that I have been relatively stabilized over the past few months and feeling pretty all right and now I feel like shit so what is the point if we aren’t just going to go ahead and do this? I was of the mindset of “first I just need to see how the medication thing goes and then we will go from there”, but maybe that was wrong. Because I know that the way that I have been feeling is as equally bad for my body as are the chemicals that I ingest on a daily basis. I can see the point of not wanting to be on the benzos and having to take a sleeping pill every night even if they have been improving my quality of life but this whole Lithium thing has been sort of a nightmare that is hopefully coming to an end but no way in hell do I want to go through this withdrawal again anytime soon.

We left the discussion at the point where we were both going to think about these things independently and then reconvene in a little bit. And honestly, despite my intense desire to Figure Out Every Single Thing About The Entire Rest Of My Life Right Now (also irrational, naturally), I do realize that making major life decisions on a day when you cry for eight hours is not the best thing to do.

There was more, about how I am depressed about the summer because it is stretching endlessly before me in a sea of emptiness (HSP – TOTALLY called this one) and not enough to do that I thought would feel liberating but doesn’t because I rarely get bored but I am bored as hell now and how if I don’t find an internship or a job (two interviews so far, a potential opportunity still maybe there but I don’t have my hopes up) I will be alone every day while he is at work and I feel empty and sad and like I am having an identity crisis and I am 14 years old again and I need a project be it learning Spanish or CSS or volunteering or temping or anything really…but it’s too much to get into all at right this second.

To sum up, I am not handling the transition that is being married so well I suppose just because it is a major life change and I have had so many so recently (I just took this Life Stress Test and got a 354 and that is not even counting the items that I didn’t include because they seemed to overlap meaning that I have a high susceptibility to stress-related illness). I love my husband just as much if not more since we got married (though it turns out that I hate the word husband as much as I hate the word fiance – from this point forward I will be calling him Mr. Brave which is accurate because he must be pretty brave to be prepared to deal with my issues on a long-term basis) so this is not the issue. There is this book that I love, How to Survive the Loss of a Love, which makes the point that every transition is a loss and that you can and maybe need to mourn happy changes as well as sad ones, so maybe I am just in mourning for a lot of parts of my former life right now which doesn’t mean that I don’t want to be married, because I do, but getting used to things is a process. I am feeling confused in general.

I apologize for all of the run-ons and parenthetical asides here. I’m not making excuses or anything but did you know that the vast majority of my posts are written after I take my sleeping pills, go lie in bed for a little bit, and then get up again to blog? I’m a grammar snob and hold myself to high writing standards but, you know, sleeping pills and all. Which I may or may not still be taking next week, an adventure in and of itself to be sure.

One thing that I did learn today is that scrubbing the bathtub is a pretty good way to get my anger under control. Maybe there’s hope for me yet.

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June 5, 2007

It might be

Filed under: Drugs,Insomnia,Mood Swings,PMS — iambrave @ 3:23 am

a couch night tonight. I am actually supposed to go in to work tomorrow to make up hours that I didn’t complete this semester. I am not supposed to be there until 11 (late, right?) but it’s already 20 till 3 and I am awake. Well, I might not really be. Sometimes I have to go upstairs, lie in bed until I can’t take it anymore, come back downstairs, and then it finally hits me that my sleeping pills are starting to kick in. And then I can sleep. Or not. Who knows?

I used to sleep on the couch a lot last year. It wasn’t that we were having problems in our relationship; it was more that the couch was a safe place for me and I didn’t get anxious there the same way that I did when I was trying to fall asleep in bed. Psyching yourself out of insomnia is not easy, people. I should be better at it given my lifetime history. (Insert parental joke: “She didn’t sleep through the night until she was 10!” Ha ha. Joke’s on me. And all of the people whom I have bitterly harassed for being able to sleep so damn well or just being asleep at a given moment when I am AWAKE AWAKE AWAKE!!!)

I think I’ve maybe slept on the couch here once. Maybe it’s just not as comfortable as the old couch that we left behind. Or maybe I have just come to appreciate the presence of other warm creatures in the bed. You don’t need a human partner for this kind of comfort. A dog works just as well. Before I got my dog a couple of years ago and I was single, I have to say that the cats just weren’t that reliable as sleeping buddies. I think they do end up in the bed every night anyway but it’s sporadic and often irritating, what with the head-walking episodes and random EXTREMELY LOUD meowing (girl cat is 9 years old, has been fixed for the vast majority of that time, and yet still acts pretty much like she’s in heat on a daily basis. I think it’s getting worse, and actually was thinking that she might be losing it a little. She has always meowed for attention a LOT, but I don’t remember the waking up part from before. A former roommate once told me that she thought that I was the human version of this cat. I love my cat from the bottom of my heart, but I did not take this as a compliment. As far as I know, I do not act like I am in heat on a daily basis. At least not since I got married. Ba da bum!).

What was I talking about, anyway? How did this turn into a pet post? Moving on, the ironic part is that right when we got back from the honeymoon a couple of weeks ago I was experiencing a miraculous sleep revival. I was even mind-writing a post about the way that my bed had magically transformed itself into the most glorious, comfortable place in the universe. No more. But it was nice while it lasted.

Revisiting the psychiatrist appointment last week: this pertains to the way that he told me to get off of sleeping pills. I currently take Temazepam for sleep and I’m wanting off of it. His instructions: try going without one night. If you sleep without the pill, try not taking it again the next night. If you don’t sleep, take it the next night. This has all fallen by the wayside since last week’s Lithium fiasco and I’ve been taking it nightly again. It went all right for a couple of nights, but I’m taking things slow. In any case, I have no idea if this is good advice for going off of sleeping pills. Plus, I can’t get into this right now without bringing up other issues that I have with my doctor right now and I really just don’t want to go there. It’s coming, don’t worry.

On other fronts, I am feeling infinitely better physically. Thank god. I have had a couple search hits on “lithium withdrawal” and things of that nature, and while I can’t say for certain that what I was going through was caused by the Lithium I will say this: be careful. Maybe take it slower rather than faster. But I seem to have gotten through, at least the horrendous physical symptoms (mood swings: not so hot. A lot of tears. I think I have PMS, though, too).

Well, this may be a crappy post but at least I am writing again. I will leave you with this, because if this doesn’t make you want to go to sleep right now, I don’t know what will:

sleep2.jpg

June 1, 2007

I feel like

Filed under: Anxiety,Bad Days,Drugs,Mood Swings — iambrave @ 4:20 pm

total and utter crap right now. Here’s a story behind it: Last week, I went to the psychiatrist to discuss going off of my meds. There are many things to be said about this visit that I’m sure I will get to at some point, but one of the things he told me was that it was okay to stop taking Lithium cold turkey because I’m on the lowest dosage (300 mg). So, I did, on Monday, I think. I did not anticipate feeling this bad!!!!!!!!!!! I am attributing this to Lithium withdrawal even though I haven’t done any research to see if this kind of thing happens to other people. Maybe I just have the flu. I don’t really know what the hell is wrong with me.

The first couple of days were god awful. I haven’t really been sleeping all that well but I have been sleeping SOME, so I don’t think that insomnia was the reason for my feeling exactly the same way that I do if I, say, literally don’t sleep at all one night after drinking heavily. I did acid in high school and this is kind of what I remember coming down felt like. I apologize for the lack of better description but my head feels, in a word, trippy. My head is tingling. Like if I take cold medicine. I am just trying to equate this feeling to something that maybe other people can understand. And then there’s the nausea – a kind of pit-of-the-stomach hollow feeling. I have barely any appetite. Or, I am hungry but food seems repulsive. And my heart is racing. Oh – this is also the same way that I would feel in my younger days on SSRIs and was really irresponsible about taking them – I wouldn’t take a Paxil or something for a couple of days and then feel like this. Serotonin withdrawal or something along those lines.

I feel cracked out.

The first two days were worse than yesterday and today, thank god. My brain feels a little better but I still feel like I am going to throw up. I was out doing errands and it’s 90 degrees out which doesn’t help and I was sweating and dizzy and I had to come home. Maybe it is partially the flu or something. My husband has been sick and I was feeling sick to my stomach last week before this all started. I dunno.

Mood-wise, I’ve been…hyper. My husband said that I was acting slightly manic, but that he likes me better this way. Probably a little more cheerful and outgoing, wanting to throw that extra joke into an email I’m writing when it may or may not be appropriate (I’m erring on the side of trying to be less silly, because I do not trust my judgment 100% this week). I’ve also been anxious. But not really dreading things anxious. More like I feel like I’m buzzing with too much energy. And yet I simultaneously want to pass out. I told you, I’m not right.

That’s what’s going on with me. Don’t worry, I am not going to try going off of anything else until I start feeling better physically.

Now I am going to lie on the couch in the air conditioning. Happy Friday and Happy June to all.

May 22, 2007

Welcome to my first post

Filed under: Depression,Drugs,Life in General — iambrave @ 9:14 am

as a Married Person. Thank you all for your kind wishes!!! Today is actually my 11-day anniversary, which is weird because of how long it means I’ve been away from here. So far, being married is a lot like living in sin except with a lot more stuff for the kitchen. I don’t really cook. I think we should return it and get a Wii.

I believe that I’ve actually been sort of depressed. I don’t know if I have ever really expressed here the massive amounts of time and energy that it took to pull this thing off.  The wedding was my baby for several months. Although it was frequently unpleasant to deal with and often seemed to take far more work than it was worth, I still had to take care of it. That was my job. I pulled it off, I suppose. I knew abstractly that the event itself would go by quickly, but it was seriously just one big blur. I don’t really remember too much. It’s just flashes of images and conversations. I guess it went all right. I think that if I stretch my mind as far as I can and try to be objective about it, I could say that it was nice. There are a lot of pictures. They look pretty nice. You can see them if you ask. But, yeah, I spent all these months planning this big party and now it is over. I feel deflated. I feel bad because I think that my husband thinks that I am depressed because I am having second thoughts about having gotten married, and that is so not it at all. I have sort of tried to explain but I haven’t had the easiest time speaking for the past couple of days.

I guess everything is okay. A couple of my friends (maid of honor and bridesmaid) are really mad at me, and I don’t quite understand why. Either this means that they have lost it or that I am so self-centered right now that I have no idea about the terrible way that I am treating people. Plus I’m mad at my mom, but so what else is new? I need to stay away from my home town for a little bit. I haven’t lived there in 2.5 years but I have attempted and succeeded in maintaining friendships with several people (which is good) and every time I go back it is so busy and intense and I am out constantly and never without plans and it is completely different from the way that my life has become. I get tired. I can’t party that hard anymore. I feel old.

The one thing that made me feel worst about the wedding was that there were so many people there and I wanted to spend five hours with all of them individually. See, the thing is that I guess that I used to be really social and maybe I didn’t really realize it until I moved away from home and didn’t have the accumulated product of living in the same place for 26 years anymore. Plus all of my family was there and I don’t get to see a lot of them very often. It was a melancholy feeling.

I have also gained around 10 pounds in the past couple of weeks. Fun.

So, I’m sitting on the couch with nothing to do. There is a lot that I could and possibly even should be doing, but I keep telling myself that I just need one more day off…Don’t worry about me, though. I have plans. I see both the psychiatrist and the GP this week and I am going to ask them what I need to do to get my body in shape to get pregnant (which means, of course, going off of my medications). How freaky weird is that??? I would like to add the disclaimer that I am NOT, in fact, trying to get pregnant. I just like to talk about it a lot with certain people. I am only discussing this here because 1. it is actually happening and it feels very strange to even be at the point of talking about it and 2. it relates to my Fun Summer Adventure plan of going off benzodiazepines.

On the topic of meds, I received a comment in which someone expressed concern regarding the fact that I have stated my intentions to go off my medication this summer. The thing is that I am not doing it because I feel great and don’t think I need them anymore. First, I don’t really feel that great. Well, I guess I feel pretty good for me. But I am terrified that I need them! The primary reason for doing this is, of course, related to procreation as mentioned above. I also, however, don’t necessarily think that it is the best thing to be on medications designated on-label for short-term usage for years and years and years. Temazepam, I am specifically looking at you right now. The only mood stabilizer that I am on is Lithium of which I only take 300 mg. a day. I have never had bloodwork done but I don’t even know if I ever hit the therapeutic range. And other than that, it’s all for anxiety. And migraines. Well, I don’t want to speculate on what’s going to happen or make up horror stories about how bad it’s going to be. It could be fine. And it always has the potential of being short-term.

I just ate half a cake.

April 10, 2007

I can’t

Filed under: Drugs,Good Days,Insomnia,Life in General — iambrave @ 2:29 am

sleep. Now, there’s a surprise. Not! (I watched Borat this weekend.) I had been doing better for the past couple of nights because I have gone up again to 2 mg of my Xanax XR. This time, I think it’s because I’m sunburned. Can you call it “sun”burned if it came from a tanning bed? Talk about cognitive dissonance – the concept in social psychology that states that you feel intense mental discomfort when you do things that are in opposition to your beliefs. The relief from cognitive dissonance comes from either 1. changing your beliefs to match your behaviors or I guess 2. stopping doing whatever it is that’s making you feel bad. The point is that I have always thought that tanning was bad, am now going tanning to look better in my wedding gown (never thought I’d wear a wedding gown either, for that matter), and am frankly not changing my mind about it given that 1 minute longer in the tanning machine than the previous time had a massive impact on how much my skin burned. Please don’t lecture me, if that’s your inclination. There’s nothing that you can tell me about tanning that I haven’t thought a million times already. The plan was to quit smoking when I started tanning so that I wouldn’t be engaging in two blatantly carcinogenic activities at the same time, but, well. Not to mention the fact that I have eaten McDonalds and Papa Johns and…gross.

4 more weeks, just 4 more weeks. Although the hot tub won’t be much fun with a sunburn.

At least I have gotten enough done over the past couple of days so that I don’t have to feel too guilty if I sleep in a little tomorrow. I’ve been making lists and crossing things off of lists. In actuality, I have only crossed one thing off of my list so far, but one is better than none. Actually, I think that going to work and going to class should count as massive accomplishments so cross those off of the list too. I would have been able to cross a second thing off of my list if I hadn’t put each and every stamp on the wrong side of the envelopes that I was sending out…you know, where the return address is supposed to go. Duh. ehow.com has informed me that it is, in fact possible to unstick a stamp from an envelope but I have made the executive decision that the $10 or so spent on wasted stamps and the 20 minutes it will take to readdress envelopes is a small price to pay for Getting Things Done.

Anyway, the drug update is that I have not started the Effexor, though the irritability that I have felt all day has made me start questioning my mood state again. I hate questioning myself. I want to be able to make a decision and trust myself. I guess that part of that is learning to be adaptable and trust that I can make new decisions as circumstances change. But I also know that there is a distinct possibility that the mood issues are related to my upping the Xanax XR. It’s an interesting drug. Apparently I am the only person in the world that takes it, because any pharmacy where I go to fill it has yet to have it in stock. My psychiatrist told me that it is rare because they don’t even stock it on the psych ward where he works. It is also the most ridiculously expensive generic medication that I have ever purchased. Unromantic reason to want to get married #612: the glory that is health insurance and a drug plan. I like the XR because it keeps me from wanting to pop pills in stressful situations – guess that cuts back on the issue of psychological dependence. And I have been feeling less anxious in the two days that I upped it. I had cut back because I thought it was making me depressed – it makes me sleep 10 hour nights and want to sleep a whole lot of the rest of the time. And now I’m wondering if it’s the reason that I’m so irritable, too, though that could be stress, I suppose. Negative thought – is my entire life going to involve developing a strategy to use one medication (an antidepressant) to offset the side effects of another (the benzo)?

So, the entire front of my body is bright red (should be wearing a bra, perhaps, ’cause those puppies have never seen a UV ray before) and prickly and itchy (doesn’t itching mean that it’s healing?). I put some lotion on, and it helped a little, but…my goodness, this is a ridiculous discussion.

In general, I’m doing all right. I just keep telling myself this quote, over and over again in my head, when I am worried about how things are going to go when I get somewhere:

“90% of life is just showing up”. – Woody Allen

It really helps me, for some reason.

April 7, 2007

It’s funny,

Filed under: Drugs — iambrave @ 4:12 pm

not funny ha ha but funny weird how I went to the psychiatrist today, told him that I was planning to try going off medication in around a month and a half, and yet somehow managed to walk out of there with something new prescribed to me. Yup, I have a bunch of little boxes of Effexor XR in my purse right now. Effexor is a SNRI (hitting both the serotonin and norephinephrine receptors), and quite frankly I am scared as hell to start taking it. There are a couple of reasons: 1. I have read about the horrible withdrawal that some people go through when they try to go off of this med, so is it really the type of thing that you really want to just “try” for a couple of months? 2. At the low dosage that has been prescribed for me (37.5 going up to 75), it’s probably not even going to hit the norepinephrine receptors and basically work as an SSRI for me. SSRIs are not typically kind to my system, but I’ll get back to that in a second. The only good news is that I have been on Effexor in the past (not surprising given the fact that I’ve been on literally 20+ psychotropic medications in my life) and lived to tell about it.

Now, I am not a doctor in any way, shape or form and if you are reading this, please do not look at this as advice. This is only about me. So, what I do know about myself is this: I am not in severe danger at this time of hurting myself or others. I know why he prescribed it to me: I probably did qualify for a major depressive episode (being depressed for 2 or more weeks) over the past couple of months from a clinical standpoint. However, I’m feeling all right today. I have been on and off medications for long enough to know that finding the right drugs is a long, often painful process of trial and error and I have no idea whether this is specifically a problem in the field of mental health or whether the same thing happens with other types of illness. If I could wish for one thing, it’s that someday there will be a blood test or a brain scan that will be able to tell a person exactly what is occurring neurologically/biochemically and therefore be able to be prescribed the right medication that specifically targets the right problem. I don’t really know the scientific literature well enough to be able to say how close we are to having something like that or if it’s something that I will see in my own lifetime. If I had to guess, I would say no.

In any case, the point that I am trying to make is that I am currently trying to decide whether I want to start taking this drug and my personal thoughts and feelings on the matter, developed over years of experience, are that JUST BECAUSE A DOCTOR PRESCRIBES SOMETHING FOR ME DOESN’T MEAN THAT I HAVE TO START TAKING IT. I am sure that my psychiatrist is a smart man. I am sure that he knows more about the brain than I do, or at least I certainly hope he does. He has a magical ability to write down the names of drugs on magical pieces of paper that allow me to go buy them. This is what he can do that I cannot do. But what neither of us can do is predict exactly how I am going to feel when I put this pill in my mouth, what side effects are going to occur, and whether or not it will ultimately prove to be a positive or negative experience.

In the fall of 2001, I starting feeling incredibly nauseous all of the time and basically couldn’t eat anymore. I starting throwing up and would even make myself throw up sometimes to help myself feel less nauseous. I had diarrhea. I lost 30 pounds. I thought that I was dying. I was incredibly anxious all of the time. I went to my primary care doctor (who insinuated that my physical problems were caused by stress) and two prominent GI specialists in the city where I was living at the time. I had bloodwork done and the full gamut of GI tests, which range from vaguely unpleasant to thoroughly disgusting. I could barely work, and ultimately believe that I was fired from a job because of this (but that’s a long story for another time). No one could figure out what the hell was wrong with me. Can you guess where this is going? Guess who ultimately diagnosed my problem. Yeah, that’s right, it was me. What all of these brilliant doctors couldn’t figure out was that my problems had started at the same time that I started taking Luvox, an SSRI. I stopped taking Luvox and presto, like magic, my problems went away. This was one of the biggest learning experiences of my entire life: doctors don’t know everything and, in fact, completely suck at diagnosis a whole lot of the time. It didn’t even OCCUR to any of these people to question to medications that I was on. All right, I said that I wasn’t in the advice giving business here, but if I did have one piece of advice to give it would be this: you need to be aware of your own body. You need to monitor your own side effects and pay incredibly close attention to how you feel when you take any medication. I will say it again: PAY ATTENTION.

Luvox was by far the worst drug experience that I have ever had. It was the worst because it dragged on for close to a year. It was one of the worst years of my life. However, I came out of this a whole lot wiser and with the knowledge that when I take an SSRI there is a large chance that it will 1. make me extremely anxious – it is possible that maybe some of my GI symptoms were related to the profound and intense anxiety that I was concurrently experiencing and 2. may make me unable to eat. Frankly, if I wanted a pill that had the primary effects of making me thinner and more anxious I would go pick up a box of diet pills. Since the hell that was Luvox, I have started taking other drugs and stopped them after about a week or so due to side effects. Many of these have been SSRIs; I think that I have referred to the problems that I had the last time that I tried Lexapro. Actually, the worst that I have ever felt after initially starting a drug was not an SSRI at all – after taking Lamictal for around a week and feeling like I wanted to die the entire time I stopped. But imagine if I had not made the association in my head and had kept taking it for a year. The truth is that a lot of these meds have horrific side effect profiles and if it’s truly what you need to take in order for your brain to work the right way you probably just need to learn to live with it. But ultimately, it’s a personal choice and involves weighing a lot of pros and cons and the key is full awareness at all times.

So, yeah, about that Effexor? I’m sort of thinking no.

April 3, 2007

I ended up

Filed under: Depression,Disclosure,Drugs — iambrave @ 2:31 pm

getting really positive responses to the emails that I sent out yesterday, so I am really glad that I decided to make the decision to be honest. Lies can really start eating away at you after a while, especially when you have lied to countless people over the course of decades.

Last night, at the Seder, the version of the Haggadah (prayer book) that we were using had a lot to say about freedom. Freedom is the theme of the Passover holiday, specifically the release of the the Israelites from their captivity in Egypt. However, this Haggadah talked about a lot of different kinds of freedom, and one thing that it said was something along the lines of “we need to release ourselves from the bondage that we place upon ourselves within our own minds”. And what was relevant to me was all of the issues that I have been talking about here lately. The bondage of stigma and of lies and of self-condemnation has been holding me captive for so many years. They say that Moses told the Pharaoh to “Let my people go,” and so I am telling my brain to let me go. Or rather, I guess a better way to put it might be that I need to let myself go.

I still feel really, really sad today. I’m not having an easy time being alone right now, and my fiance is at work and my dog is at daycare and I got my paper done for class tonight which is a good thing but now I have just sort of collapsed on the couch crying and I can’t quite figure out how to get up again. Maybe I just need to cry it out and I will feel better…it’s been a long time since I have been alone in the house and just let myself cry. Or maybe it hasn’t been. I can’t honestly remember. Depression isn’t really great for the memory.

Shit. I just missed a call from my psychiatrist because the caller ID said “Out of Area”. I really need an appointment. I guess. I don’t know what he is going to do for me, anyway, given that I still intend on trying to go off all of my meds come the end of May. I think that a lot of psychiatrists really try their best (although I have seen some really bad ones) but there are limitations to what they are capable of doing for some people. I have been on so many different drugs it’s ridiculous…SSRIs make me really anxious or physically ill for extended periods, with the possible exception of Prozac; I am at the point that I am scared to touch anything that specifically targets serotonin. I tried Lexapro, I believe, most recently, and I couldn’t even handle it at a half dosage for a full week. I am on a low dose of Lithium right now but I don’t know how much that helps with depression, given that I believe that it’s mainly used for depression to augment antidepressants (and I’m not on any) and otherwise to treat mania, which is luckily not a problem for me though some docs have called me hypomanic/Bipolar II but who really knows? It’s hard to put a name on my specific variety of mood disorder…NOS, I suppose…a guy I saw in California wanted me to have that surgery that I can’t remember the name of now, he didn’t call it deep brain stimulation I don’t think, for my “treatment-resistant depression”. I was definitely dysthymic with major depressive episodes in high school and college, I think, for which SSRIs did work but my brain has changed since then. I think of anxiety as my major problem so that is what I am being treated for mainly right now…lord knows I love my benzos but I don’t know what they’re doing for me today when I am just so sad. My history is a long story and I just don’t have the energy for it right now.

Okay, so the bad news is that I don’t feel well. The good news is that I a tiny little freer than I was yesterday because I was honest with people. I feel bad, but I’m working on not feeling bad about myself for feeling bad. That’s something.

March 31, 2007

This blog is

Filed under: Drugs,Good Days,Insomnia,Life in General,PMS,Social Phobia — iambrave @ 2:36 am

keeping me up at night. Okay, I am up at night a lot anyway. But, I was so tired around 40 minutes ago that I thought for sure that I would fall right asleep. Not so. As soon as I laid down, I started thinking of things to write about. Ultimately, I needed to just get up and write. Here I am.

We ended up coming to a compromise tonight about what to do. We didn’t end up going to the concert, but I was told that I needed to get out of the house anyway and avoid getting stuck in my little bubble of safety. The things that we did were not scary at all. Actually, we had a lovely night out. A perfect little date of dinner and a movie. It was fun, and I was happy and not anxious. We saw Blades of Glory and it was ridiculous and it made me laugh. I even felt like I could’ve gone to the concert (maybe) but we didn’t push it. It seems to me that there are surprisingly few movie theaters close to where we live, only having lived in this city for around eight months now, but we found one and I thought it was just perfect. It was old and rundown and although that I am assuming that the movie we saw probably opened fairly largely tonight given the crap that’s out right now there were only maybe ten people in the theater. I am all for stadium seating and digital what have you but I am more than happy to trade not having to share an armrest with a stranger for a dirty little place with a hole in the middle of the screen. And afterwards we got our pictures taken in a photo booth and played arcade-style video games and it was totally silly and I had a great time. The only thing that’s missing right now is my dog – we have to board him when we go out because of his mental health problems (one of the reasons that we have barely left the house together in months) and so he’s not here tonight to sleep under the covers with me.

So, we didn’t go to the show. We also didn’t go to a concert back in September that we had bought tickets for. Note to self: stop buying concert tickets for the time being. But, I’m going to frame this in a positive way. We went out, and this is such a vast improvement over a couple of incredibly low times last year when I couldn’t leave the house at all. I was doing straight-up CBT (cognitive-behavioral therapy) early in 2006 and one of the things that the therapist had me do was construct my hierarchy of fear. I remember that the first thing that I was supposed to work on, i.e. the thing that I was least afraid of, was taking the dog out, not even for extended walks, but just to let him out in the apartment complex that we lived in at the time because I was terrified of even seeing one of my neighbors. It’s progress. MAJOR progress. I have neighbors that I actively dislike right now for various reasons but I am able to leave the house and risk running into them. In California, I didn’t even know any of these people. Here, I have legitimate issues with people that I could very well see on the street at any time and I am still able to leave my house. It’s a big deal.

My period started today in the very light way that it starts and I do feel significantly different than I did yesterday in that, even though I had trouble falling asleep a few minutes ago, I am not feeling totally wired. I am specifically trying to document my cycle right now because I am looking for patterns that will hopefully prove helpful. For example, if I come to the realization that when I have PMS I will not be able to sleep, I will have this knowledge ahead of time and, when it comes to being able to deal with the ways that your brain may be playing tricks on you, this knowledge is key. If I can establish that this insomnia is a monthly pattern I will be able to anticipate it and plan around it and not descend into the downward spiral of “I don’t know what the hell is happening to me, therefore this must be a sign of my final descent into madness”. The same thing applies if I can realize that I do get more anxious when I have PMS. I had been very physically depressed prior to the past week, and needing to sleep 10 or so hours a night, and then the insomnia hit.

I have so much to say right now and I am feeling sleepy but I would like to continue for just a little bit further and talk about the ways that picking up writing again is changing my life for the better. I have never really been consistent with pen-and-paper diaries throughout my life and I have been known to destroy my written words (regrettably) in the past because it made me sick to see what I had been writing about. I started my other blog in December, and I like that one too, to some extent, but the more that I wrote on that one I felt a need to entertain and try maybe a little too hard and conceal too much and ultimately came to the realization this week that these things were the things that I really needed to express. I can’t believe that I went for so much time without writing at all. I believe that I was born to write and I don’t mean that in an arrogant way because the amazing (and intimidating) thing that I am finding out as I learn more and more about the world of blogging is that there are probably literally millions of wonderful writers in the world and there is so much reading that I need to do and so much that I can learn from the stories of other people. I wish that I had figured out what a blog was sooner – I was one of those people that didn’t know even know what the term meant until it was used in the popular media regarding the immense influence that bloggers were starting to have on society, politics, etc. I can’t remember when exactly that was – if it was during a time not so long ago when I spent all of my waking hours getting stoned all the time it may not have been personally helpful. The excessive self-medication that I used as a coping mechanism for several years – as a side note, thank god I was just smoking weed and, while intensely psychologically addicted and perhaps even physically as it related to my sleep cycle and maybe even my depression and anxiety it could’ve turned out way worse – was not conducive to coherent writing. I will talk more about my views on my drug use at another time. And although I am currently using drugs which, I believe, are potentially a lot more dangerous given their physically addictive profiles, they are not inhibiting my writing. So, that’s something at least.

I feel like I am becoming more and more incoherent right now – that’s a GOOD sign, given that it’s 2:30 a.m. – so I believe that I will attempt to sleep again. Believe it or not, I am actually looking forward to the horrendous day 2 of my menstrual cycle that should come tomorrow in all of its crampy agony because I am physically exhausted and I hope that the ability to sleep will return to me.

So, good night internet. Good night to my dog as well – I wish that I could go break you out of captivity to come snuggle with me. I am sure that I will see you both tomorrow.

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