Archive for November, 2010


A World of Pain

I just finished reading the manuscript for my 2nd-year college roommate’s first completed novel, a young adult fiction called A World of Light.  I don’t know what to think of it, I’m no critic.  I think it’s definitely a novel that would have appealed to her when she was around the target age.  It’s smart, it doesn’t talk down to the reader.  It’s a little vague on some points and I think clarifying them would make it a stronger story.  It could certainly make it about more than just hereditary mental illness.  Is that what it’s about?

All I know is that reading this story flashed me back, waay back to times I have tried to forget, so much so that I have forgotten trying to forget them.

Early in my experience of depression I began reading stories about mental illness.  The “fun” kind (from my perspective), the kind where you are in an institution and the people around you all seem imaginary because you have created this rich, inescapable world in your insanity.  I specifically remember a novel called I Never Promised You a Rose Garden about a young woman whose story met that description.

I started writing my own story, pouring my loneliness, my angst — the angst of middle school mingled with the angst of deepening depression that I truly did not understand — my desire to escape, all into a story about a girl my age named Lily who had a “refuge” in her head.  I think she fell into a coma-like state when visiting this refuge.  I think there was another character, a Temptor, encouraging her to spend more and more time out of reality and in “the Area.”

I still had the unfinished, handwritten manuscript up until a few years ago.  It was boxed with years of spiral-bound journals and other attempts and writing fiction or poetry.  I finally threw them all away when I started dating a boy who suggested that keeping them around, referring back to them might not be the healthiest thing.  It was hard to do.  And now, flooded with the memories of a young me, terrified, lonely, confused and terribly depressed, writing this story because I had no real escape of my own, I almost wish I had access to that manuscript.  At the same time I recognize, having reread old journals many times, that going back to those times can throw me back into those feelings, can confuse and strain my slightly-better-adjusted psyche.

Tonight I’m listening to my “instrumentals” playlist.  My favorite tracks are “Yumeji’s theme” from In the Mood for Love and the second movement from Beethoven’s 7th symphony: the Allegretto, used as the main theme for the movie The Fall.  I think feeling a little sadness, mourning a little for the little girl that I was, is a good thing.  Forgetting about her entirely will not do either of us any good.  And if I can embrace her now, she may yet grow into a secure self.

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Typical Thanksgiving post

Today is Thanksgiving, a holiday with no religious or spiritual basis that I know of.  It is my favorite holiday.  Yet strangely this year I have had no natural compulsion to reflect on the things I am thankful for, something I have enjoyed doing the last few years.

This day really is a great excuse to spend some time acknowledging the great things in our life that we generally take for granted.  I have made an effort over the course of the year to acknowledge the truly marvelous as I experience it.  What I am truly grateful for is the experience of change in my life.  I am not the same person I was a year ago, five years ago.  I could fall down on my knees with thanks for that simple truth.

I am so grateful that human nature is to grow and learn right up until we die.  I have spent a lot of time afraid of change, of the unknown, but more dreadful is the prospect of stagnation.  I have been paralyzed through much of my depression by the feeling that things would never change, that I would feel “this way” forever.  To get to a point now where I realize that not only do things always change, but I am the one who has the most control over how they change, is such a relief and a delight.

I am looking forward to tomorrow, where the plan is to officially open my installation project, Roadside Conscience.

Boring Post

Detox is still going fairly well.    No new or interesting details to add on that.

 

I saw a therapist for the first time on Wednesday after work.  It was… weird.  I forgot how awkward the first couple of sessions can be.  But she was attentive, and despite the fact that when I started talking I felt like I really had no cause to be there she seemed to take me seriously.  So that’s a good sign.

 

Three people where I work got laid off on Thursday, right around lunch time.  One of them I had been expecting, but three in one day really kind of shocked me.  It was rough on the office manager, who had to do the actual laying-off. Of course it was rough on the people who suddenly don’t have jobs.  I couldn’t stop thinking about it on the drive home that day.

 

This is a boring post.  Blah.

Effexor Detox, Day 7

So far, so good!  I discovered that I can snap the pills in half with my fingers rather than bothering with a knife or buying one of those little pill-cutter things.  Let’s hear it for economy!

 

My first therapy session (the “intake”) is this Wednesday after work.  Originally I was looking to join this woman’s group session, but lately I’m not so sure.  I don’t even know if this is “dysthymia” anyway.

Effexor detox, day 4

I realize that “detox” isn’t entirely accurate, since I’m cutting back gradually, but I just like the sound of it.

 

Today is my fourth full day of operating on 75mg a day, which is half my prescribed dosage.  I take the generic, NON extended release pills, which conveniently have a ridge in the middle that makes them easy to cut in half.  Since it’s not the extended release version, I take it twice a day, so I get 37.5mg in the morning after breakfast and then 37.5mg after lunch.

 

So far I have to say I’m quite pleasantly surprised at the apparent lack of withdrawal-type side effects.  Apparently having half of what it’s used to is good enough for my brain & body.  So far so good.

 

The only drawback so far seems to be that I feel more tired in the morning.  Effexor, unlike the Prozac that I took through most of my mental health travails, has a stimulant effect that has been quite helpful to get me going in the morning.  I have been taking the drug as soon as I get to work in the morning, and within 20 minutes or so I feel pretty well wide awake.  Cutting the dosage has decreased that “up” feeling somewhat.

 

My plan is to do this extremely slowly.  I don’t want to rush it and find myself having some kind of serious narcotic breakdown.  I will keep at this dose level for 30 days… at that point I will have to decide if I want to cut the pills into quarters, go through all the trouble of getting my doctor to prescribe me the smaller pills, or just say the hell with it and stop taking the drug entirely.

 

I believe 37.5mg is the smallest dose available, so even if I get my doctor to send in a new prescription I’ll still have to cut the pills in half.

 

But I’ve got 26 days to make a final decision on that.  Or more, if I get scared and decide to keep up the 75 for a bit longer!

Changing tides

Had a little bit of a breakdown last night.  BF & I were lying down in bed and he asked, “are you doing ok?”  I responded “I don’t know…”  Then he followed up with “Are you happy?”

 

How am I supposed to answer that?  What does he mean by “happy”?  I just told him earlier this week that I was going to start seeing a therapist again.  In my book that should make a question like “are you happy” absolutely Off Limits until further notice.

 

I confessed to him that I felt defective, that I wasn’t sure if I was able to truly connect with other people, and that I had no idea if that was normal or if we truly do all die alone despite our best efforts.

 

I know it’s hard for him because he’s never had any kind of depression himself, so he really has no idea where my feelings are coming from.  But it’s a legitimate question.  Is it even possible to connect with others in such a way that we do not feel alone?  And if so, is there something wrong with me because I can’t seem to connect in that way?  And if not, why do we all strive so hard to connect to others if it’s not possible?

 

After a few minutes of each of us not really hearing the other, I just started to sob a little.

 

A true sign, to me, that I made the right choice in contacting a therapist.

 

So go me!

 

I feel better today, of course.  Sleep almost always makes the bad feelings go away.  That’s why I do it so much.

By way of comparison

I decided to do a little dramatization of my typical weekend to demonstrate how today’s productivity is almost unheard-of. Here goes:

My Weekends (typically)

 

 

 

 

The End.

Today I woke up with this odd motivation to Get Things Done.  This isn’t unheard of, but it is uncommon.  I immediately made a list of things I needed/wanted to get done while under this spell.

I wavered a bit in the shower…

…but The List commanded.

I manage (if you can call it that) the website for a local grassroots political activist; After my shower I went out immediately to the Post Office to mail some books people had bought from the website over the course of the week.

On my way home I went “Shit! I still need to get my oil changed!”  So I dropped Swamp Thing (the name of my car) off at the Meineke up the street (only 6,000+ miles late…).  I even paid for the 2nd tier “Preferred” oil change, so they checked my alignment & other fluid levels and junk.  Which was good, because one of the belts was apparently totally rotted and had to be replaced.  Because mechanics are stereotyped as making shit up to get you to pay more, I get nervous when they say stuff like that.  But I hadn’t had my car looked at since probably when I first bought her so I figure the odds that she might need something replaced are pretty good.

When I got home I made myself a delicious and filling breakfast of over-medium eggs on toast.  I cut one of my Effexors in half.  I am definitely nervous about cutting back my dosage because the withdrawal is so bad.

I folded and put away the clothes that I washed last Monday (today is Saturday… they have been sitting on my computer chair since Monday… I would move them onto the bed when I wanted to use the computer… then move them back to the chair when it was time for bed).

I started a load of laundry… will I fold & put it away before next weekend?  Who knows!

I balanced my checkbook and finally went online to pay the bill for my last pap smear (CMC sends me a statement and leaves me voicemail about this at least once a week).  I had insurance and it still cost me 300 bucks.  What the fuck do they do with all that money??  I think they did take some blood and maybe give me a tetanus shot too tho.  Still.  I didn’t even ask for that shit. (I also didn’t object when the doctor suggested it)

Remaining on my list are:

The bathroom thing mainly refers to the bathtub.  I need to get some DRANO or something because it clogs a little.  And also there’s some kind of filth that’s built up on one end that I’ve been staring at all week and thinking, “this weekend I’m gonna scrub this thing.”

Joe Thomas was my last therapist.  He did me a lot of good, but our payment arrangements were kind of weird.  For some reason he wasn’t depositing the checks I gave him at each session.  He said it was some kind of tax thing he was trying to work around, and I was a little weirded out (I always wished I had said something to that effect at the time), but I was like, “OK,” because I balance my checkbook and I can pretty much keep track of what money is mine and what is, for all intents and purposes, his.  But we’re talking like over a year of sessions, so eventually to keep my head straight I moved the money that was “his” into my savings account.  Then he kept not asking for it and I needed a chunk of cash to propel my student loan out of default, so I used that money.  Of course, immediately afterwards he told me he had “come up with a plan” for the money and would I cut him a check?  So I had to tell him I didn’t have it anymore.  Which made him kind of unhappy I’m sure.  Of course, if he’d just cashed the checks I had been writing him this whole time he wouldn’t have had this problem.  Anyway.

A couple weeks ago I got a check for my portion of the IRA my dad had, and I decided I’d take a chunk and finally pay Joe Thomas his money.  I thought about doing something really cool and paying with interest, but then I thought, fuck that, he’s lucky I’m paying him at all.  He’s probably already written me off anyway.  It was almost 2 years ago that I fired him (for non-money-related issues).  I have this scrap of paper from 2 years ago where I wrote down all the check numbers and totaled what I owed him, but it’s been so long I’m not completely clear on what I owe him and what I paid… I think it comes to around $2500 from the looks of it.

I don’t want to call him to make sure that he still lives in the same place… I just want to send him a check, no note or anything.  Kind of like a “you probably thought I was a bad person, fuck you” kind of thing.  The fact is, legally he had nothing on me, because I did write him checks for each individual session.  He just chose not to use them.  Anyway.

I feel like I’m being pretty damn honorable.

Effexor Detox

Anyone who has taken a drug to treat chemical imbalance (or anyone who has a drug addiction, really) will know what I’m talking about when I refer to WITHDRAWAL. These are my (admittedly mild at first) symptoms:

Agitation
Feverishness & chills
Shakes
General mood swinginess

I become completely unable to interact with people.  Someone is like, “Hey, how’s it goin?”

And I smile real big and go, “Super! how’ve you been? Great to see you, bye!”

And if they say, “No really, how are you doing?”

I’m then forced to say “I’m, uh, . . . . .doing. . . . .You know.” *looks around frantically for an exit*

WHY ARE YOU TALKING TO ME?? SHUT UP SHUT UP AND GO AWAY SO I CAN FREAKING BREATHE FOR A SECOND?!? (inset)

All this taken into consideration (while I was fighting the internal wrenching and chills on my drive home from work), I’ve decided to wean myself off this stuff.  Obviously I know better than to cut it out “cold turkey,” but the fact that my body/brain relies on it so desperately just Freaks Me Out.

I take 75mg twice daily.  The pills are pretty easy to cut in half, so Phase One will be moving to 37.5mg twice daily.  Will I totally flip out?  Who knows!  Let’s watch, shall we?