Wednesday, September 10th, 2014 | Author:

“I like keeping up with your blog because it’s such a train wreck,” an old friend jokingly laughed to me on the phone last night. I laughed too, because she’s the type of person who makes really abrasive jokes, but still loves me and has stuck around through some serious garbage on my part. And then after we’d hung up, I realized how angry I was that such a joke hurt me, not because of her, but because I completely believe it myself. I mentioned in my last post that this entire blog has been my dumping ground for my ongoing health saga – most of which has been mental and has crafted beautiful material for this 12-year-old book project I’ve kept going – and that I hate it. And that’s the truth. I hate being around hypochondriacs. I hate people who always seem to have one thing wrong with them or another and always have something to complain about and never seem to get better and don’t do anything to change their lifestyle that directly affects their health issues. And I’m frustrated because I see myself as that despite my constant doctors’ visits and attempted treatments.
I fucking hate it. And I hate that this is what my life has been about. And I also hate that this is what has defined my life on this blog which was meant to focus on all realms of my life, but which usually is just a place for me to vent so my spouse and friends don’t have to listen to it all the time.
And I make a point not to post that much when I’m miserable but nothing new is happening; I’m self-aware enough not to need redundant whining when I’m not actually being proactive about the situation.

But having nothing to talk about except the fact that I’m a medical mystery still has been old news for a few years now; I remember whining “I’m DONE with this” at least 4 years ago; now it’s just sad and pathetic.

I need new material. As much as I need a place (cyber or otherwise) to vent about what’s going on, more than that, I need to be able to celebrate being an able-bodied person for a change. Having nothing to write about besides this Sisyphus complex of mine is really cliche, really boring, and really redundant. And, most of all, it doesn’t serve me at all.

The problem I’ve been running into for years is that, ever time I’ve said, “Oh fuck being sick; I’m DONE,” the godawful feelings persist in disrupting my life. And every time I’ve had a new diagnosis, it’s turned out to not be that after 6 mo-3 years of treating it (and may’ve morphed into some godawful side effect I’m also having to deal with. See: Gastrointerology catastrophe ’09 and PGAD ’13.)

This feels impossible. This feels ridiculous. This feels useless. I feel more obnoxious by the day. And useless. And hopeless.

I need something new. I need a different lifestyle. This isn’t working. It hasn’t been working.

Monday, September 08th, 2014 | Author:

Some test results have come back, and I’m sick. Officially. In fun, new, and different ways than previously assumed. And while I’m really relieved to have “answers”, what holds me back from being happy about it is that I’ve been dealing with diagnoses and “answers” and potential treatments for the better part of a decade now.

I’m good at hiding it, but dealing with either a mental illness or a physical ailment nonstop for the last 6 years has completely eviscerated my self-esteem. I have had bursts of time during which I can be a bright, intelligent participant in society, and be reliable to my friends and family, but more often than not, I have been a useless drain on the people I love. A bundle of times, thanks to the aforementioned general apathy/absense/ignorance/irresponsibiliy of my psychiatric doctors, I have been outright destructive. I haven’t acheived anything my heart really desires, and my child has had to watch me be too sick to provide her with anything other than the basics and a few here-and-there fun things since she first arrived. I have to opt out of time with my family and friends on a weekly basis, and, even though I have fewer catastrophes than I used to, I hate every single time I have to retreat to my bedroom to be achy and fatigued. I adore going out with friends, but I’ve only felt up to doing it about once every couple months for the last few years; I cringe every time I have to call someone and bail on plans. The times I’ve been able to get away for a whole weekend at a time were always amazing for my mental health, but I always came home and crashed hard for the week afterward.

I hate that my life has been centered around “just trying to feel better” for almost 10 years and that that has been how I spend the majority of my time; trying to find basic, sustainable health for myself is a selfish, boring, unfulfilling full-time career. It is torture to watch everyone I respect getting into their respective grooves and thriving in their lifestyles, and I’m constantly in “one day I’ll get better, but right now I need to rest or I’ll come apart”-mode. I hate that, from time to time, my husband has legitimately questioned whether I just enjoy lying around and being taken care of/pitied; once, in an argument, he said I liked “playing the victim” and I still haven’t stopped hurting from that. I’m not angry he said it, and I understand completely why he would feel that way; he’s been carrying our family on his shoulders since Day 1 while I’ve been all over the place mentally and physically, so I don’t blame him for believing it. I’m just so frustrated that I’ve never been able to be healthy and consistent long enough to show him that I have no intention of being just a “kept woman” my whole life. In fact, living as such makes me completely miserable. I am ashamed and embarrassed that I can’t seem to do anything on my own, really, and that my life has just been conducted in fits and spurts of times when I feel alright. I am so, so angry that I can’t be a strong, present participant in my own life and that I’ve had to be dependent on someone else so completely for so long. I’ve been seeing doctors and doing research and changing my lifestyle habits and attempting new recovery methods non-fucking-stop forEVER and I’m still sick and tired and in pain all the time. I only break down and cry with frustration over these spinning wheels every few months, but the redundancy of that is demoralizing in and of itself.

Again, things have slowly gotten better in that my mental state is finally at a normal, healthy, even keel for the first time since I was pregnant, and that has taken a load off the strain in our household. Honestly, the one thing I feel like I’ve successfully accomplished in years is getting off psychiatrics for a bit to reboot my system; that’s given us a new dose of hope and sanity.

However, I’m still having to seek treatment for about a dozen other painful symptoms that are ever-present and are continuing to disrupt my life, and the frustration of that is starting to get to me.
I don’t enjoy this as a lifestyle or as who it’s painting me to be.
I honestly hate writing about this shit all the time.
I’ve written this blog for the last 6-ish years, so I have somewhere to vent because I know the people in my life are too exhausted to hear everything I have to say about it (again, completely understandably), but I hate that I have a blog that is as old as this one that is chronicling nonstop health problems. I’m not proud of it; this is not what I want my writing career to be about, but I’m one of those strange folk who have to write what’s on her mind so I don’t lose my sanity completely.
I hate that I’ve been needy and unable to stand on my own two feet as an adult. Obviously, I am grateful that I have people who love me enough to provide me space to recover, but I hate that I can’t give back much of myself and desperately trying to convince my loved ones that this lazy, helpless, constantly-ill version of myself isn’t the Real Me.
I hate that I feel like I have so few personal accomplishments to be proud of because my life has been stalling for so long thanks to forces beyond my control. I’d rather be self-sabotaging than have to wait for more treatments and diagnoses and crap, to be honest; at least being a coward is something I can change.
I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired all the damned time from one thing or another. And I’m sick of saying, “Okay, I think this is what I need to get better”, only to find that there’s some other life-disrupting health-related problem waiting for me right after that.

The worst part is that, the more I keep declaring, “I’ve had enough of this bullshit!” and continuing to plow forward with determination to get better, the more idiotic I feel when that attitude doesn’t pay off. Again.

Like I said, being sick has annihilated my self-esteem, and the fact that there’s still no genuine end in sight is making it hard for me to justify any optimism at the moment. I’m tired of going after treatments and having them wreck my system; I don’t even recognize myself after the two years on Effexor and the detox that followed because I’ve put on so much weight. I’m tired of having to research yet another diagnosis and everything it entails; I feel like I could pass at least a dozen doctoral courses on psychiatrics, psychology, and gynecology with the amount of time and studying I’ve put into trying to figure out what the hell is going on with me.

I’m exhausted. I’m demoralized. I’m frustrated. I’m not quite hopeless yet, but the temptation to collapse in self-pity has definitely presented itself.

I’m supposed to start an 8-month-long yoga teacher training course this weekend, which is something I’ve been wanting to do for two years now. My recent diagnosis along with fatigue and general aches and pains are trying to talk me out of it, but I’m convinced that quitting before I start and sitting out another year would be worse for my mental state than anything else I could do to myself at this juncture, so
Onward.

Monday, September 01st, 2014 | Author:

I’m just going to cut to the chase: it looks like Mirena has been wrecking my body and my mind for the last 6 years, and the avalanche of medications I was being fed to counteract what we thought was just run-of-the-mill mental illness has just been exacerbating all of it and leading to a plethora of misdiagnoses and chaos.

Holy SHIT, I am angry right now.

After I decided to stop taking antidepressants last spring, I noticed that I was having a LOT of gynecological pain that must’ve been covered up for all those years I was being medicated, so I decided to go one further on the detox and rid myself of the Mirena IUD that I’ve had in since right after the Bear was born. Unfortunately, however, the cramping and general fatigue haven’t gone away and, in fact, have been disrupting my life in the 6 weeks since all that happened.

So, I started to look up “removal of Mirena symptoms” and was suddenly thrown into a humongous cybercommunity of women whose lives have been sidelined by Mirena and its ability to permanently damage hormone production.

See, when I was pregnant with the Bear, I stopped taking all my psychiatric medicines and was relieved to find that I was perfectly happy. It was only after I’d stopped nursing that my depression came back, and I naturally just assumed that it was my body going back into “regular Crazy” mode, so I went back to trying to find some medication that would make me “normal” and “healthy” again. What I hadn’t taken into consideration was that I’d recently had the Mirena inserted, which was blocking my progesterone enough to keep me from having a period for years (seemed like a luxury at the time. Luxuries come with prices, folks. Write that down.)

Like I’ve stated before, in the years since, I’ve gone from medication to medication and hosted a series of disgnoses to explain my ever-fluctuating moods and tendencies. I even started exhibiting bipolar symptoms, which is something I’d never EVER encountered in all my years of on-and-off depression. Then, when I realized that none of these medicines were actually improving my quality of life (and not for lack of trying), I took myself off of them last spring and my mental state has been fine…

… except for when I’m ovulating, which causes me to have intense, suicidal depression for a couple days and then will dissipate like nothing ever happened. Lovely.

In the last month or so, I’ve been having aches and pains all over, terrible/stabby abdominal cramps, random anxiety spells, incredible fatigue, and very muddled/confused thinking, which has been troubling to say the least. Imagine my surprise when I discover that this is apparently what thousands of women are also experiencing due to this purportedly innocuous IUD [that they're now prescribing to teenagers who want to have a lighter period, ohbytheway... WHAT?!?!]

There are literally hundreds of chatrooms and message boards and blogs dedicated to women discussing how they’ve developed auto-immune disorders because of this shit. Now I’m looking at having permanently-altered progesterone production, silicone immune toxicity syndrome, and a host of other garbage that my doctor knows nothing about and has deferred to UNC Gynecology to investigate. (The wait was so long that my appointment isn’t until early October – something I’m really glad about now that I’ve had some time to do my own research about this; otherwise, who knows what sort of misdiagnosis or ignorance I’d be encountering when I got there?)

On one hand, I’m really glad I’ve found what appears to be The Answer/Source of all these nonstop problems I’ve been having for about 6 years now. On the other, I am just fucking livid that I’ve wasted so, so much time and money and energy and have struggled with so much self-doubt and frustration and turmoil because of something that at least ONE professional who was in charge of medically observing me should’ve asked about at least once. I have wasted thousands of dollars going to psychiatrists and having them prescribe me cocktails of further-maddening drugs that exacerbated the problems and gave me whole new disorders I had to have treated. I’ve been disabled from discomfort and mental disorder and unable to contribute to my family, let alone attempt a “normal” full-time career. I have dealt with entirely too much bullshit to be relieved at this point.

And, truthfully, I feel kind of stupid for not thinking of it and just assuming that this had to be safe. But of bloody COURSE something that is feeding synthetic steroids into my ladyparts and causing me not to have a period for half a decade is going to be bad for me. I’m mad I believed the whole “doctors know more than I do” thing I’ve been indoctrinated to think and never bothered to question any of this before now.

And yeah, I know being mad isn’t going to make it better. But writing about it publicly might help someone else, because it’s done that for other things I’ve covered on this blog, so maybe it’ll work again. And it’s definitely beneficial to trash another medication on a public forum and back my arguments up with genuine emotion, so I’m going for it. (sarcasm? anyone?)

However, when I see the number of women who have been suffering from this and are listing identical symptoms to my own, I am comforted and validated in a way I never thought I’d ever be. After these last few months of detox, I’ve been getting increasingly frustrated and hopeless as I’ve been unable to figure out why I wasn’t feeling any better despite so many drastic changes to my diet and exercise regimen. The relief I’m feeling in knowing what’s been going on is tremendous, although it’s tainted by frustration that I had to figure it out myself when it’s been right in front of me the whole time and was something I was told not to worry about.

I’m not worried; having an answer is much more comfortable to me than this DiY detox-into-uncertainty I’ve been doing for months now. I got this. I’m still in pain. My brain is still foggy and I’m still exhausted and achy, but I have more hope and direction than I have since I started actively trying to get better, and that’s the best thing that’s happened to me in a long, long time.
Onward.

(I really want to thank Krysti of “My Life After Mirena” for thoroughly chronicling her REALLY awful experience and recovery from Mirena, as well as Dr. Jennings for sharing valuable information via YouTube and his site about how to effectively detox from Mirena at no charge.)

Saturday, August 09th, 2014 | Author:

In the spirit of candidly sharing every part of this recovery thing, I’m going ahead and talking a tiiiny bit more about ladystuffs because it’s critical to the story. Plus, after telling the world I was clinically horny last winter, I figure anyone still reading my drivel is equipped to handle it. So, after about a month of ongoing crabbiness and desperately seeking ways to keep my ever-present irritability at bay, I suffered the single worst spell of PMS I’ve ever experienced, and realized that these symptoms may not’ve been related to withdrawal but were, instead, just coming to light after being obscured by the psychiatric meds and should probably be looked at separately.
Long story short: I’m not on birth control anymore and everything is genuinely great.
It was kind of terrifying, given that I’ve been on it since I was 17, but I figure I’ve already kicked a 12-year addiction to antidepressants, so cutting myself off from unnatural hormone replacement was a logical next step. Sure enough, my moods immediately stabilized, my abdomen stopped cramping nonstop, and my mind has just been at peace.

At this juncture, I’m completely au naturel.
And that seems to be the Answer as far as my mental health goes.

I’m not an idiot, though; I’m still going to be vigilant of my moods and energy ebbs and flows. Again, after the terrifying manic episodes I’ve been having in the last few years, I’m too paranoid to let even an energized cleaning spell go by without heavy consideration, and I know that many, many people quit their medicine believing that they’re “fine” only to horribly relapse. That’s the last thing I want.

But I also know that every single mental problem I’ve had in the last decade has happened while I was on antidepressants, and my massive psychotic break (almost exactly a year ago to right now, actually) happened while I was on medications for both depression AND bipolar disorder. Like I’ve said before, these medicines weren’t helping anything, and I was living a lifestyle of moving from illness to illness…which was bullshit… From where I sit now, I’m inclined to believe at least 75% of this madness was precipitated because I was so heavily medicated (the other 20% being from the birth control, and the final 5% is my own natural color.)

These days my mental state is rational and predictable on a daily basis, which wasn’t even possible during the Effexor-zombie apathy spell I was experiencing for months at the beginning of this year. I’m still working on building up physical strength, and I’m monitoring my diet with lots of protein, so my carb-binge cravings have finally subsided. I’m finding I’m a lot less exciteable than I remember being in my youth, and I tend to be a lot more laid-back than I’ve ever been. I don’t nervously blurt or ramble when I’m bored or nervous, which is a huge relief; I feel more at ease moving through social interactions these days. A lot of that I’m sure has to do with age, but being that I’ve been a hyperexciteable mess right up until a couple months ago, finding out that I’m really a lot more relaxed when I’m unmedicated is a delightful surprise.

I feel like I’ve had a complete mental makeover. The person I’ve been in the last couple months has been drastically different than the scary, insane thing I’ve been exhausted being for an eternity now. Aside from physical issues throwing kinks in my daily life, I’m finding that I’m more consistent than ever and my progress at recovery is slow and steady instead of coming in fits and spurts like usual. With this lack of constant drama, our household is flourishing; my husband feels more comfortable and relaxed and, as a result, his creativity is bursting, which spurs on my own. We’re calmer and more content; stress, anxiety, and fear don’t lie just below the surface of our interactions anymore. It’s an incredible luxury.

I will say that, now that I’m not constantly battling some mental demon, I am excruciatingly bored with this stay-at-home lifestyle I’ve set up for myself. Having the Bear at home for summer is keeping me entertained and staying creative, but the minute she goes off to school in a couple weeks, I’m diving right into a couple ventures I’ve had on the backburner for years now. Originally, I thought I’d look for work, but as I was interviewing for another non-prof office gig a couple weeks ago, I realized I’m not convinced I can swing a 9-to-5 lifestyle. Instead, I’m going to spend more time sloooowly integrating structure to my life and figuring out where New/Healed/Mostly-Sane Liz can thrive.

Honestly, for the first time since I was a kid, I feel like forward movement and living a full, unique, healthy existence is something I’m actually accomplishing. It doesn’t look impressive on paper, but this thoroughly-therapied, at-peace-and-slowly-plodding-forward-at-my-own-pace version of my Self is my favorite of my acheivements so far.

Friday, July 11th, 2014 | Author:

It’s been a little over two months since I stopped the Effexor and, while my major withdrawal symptoms have been gone for awhile, I’ve been struggling with a few that are still just as mind/time consuming. Primarily, I am irritable and my mini-wrath is on a short fuse. Luckily, I’m in no mindset for angry tirades or livid missives or my typical get-angry-and-stew-and-obsess-over-it M.O., but I’m snapping a lot at the Bear for just being a normal kid (read: loud and messy), and I’m just bitchy and grumpy and misanthropic a LOT recently, which I can tell is just withdrawally stuff and isn’t anything real. I do have brief flashes of really evil thoughts when the irritability strikes, but none are violent and I’m not feeling driven to perform anything more than just some light grumping, so no need to worry. Strangely, it seems to set in right about 3 p.m. (whether or not I’ve had coffee in the morning) which I’ve started referring to as “Bitch O’Clock”, and at which point I make arrangements to have a little quiet time and not put myself in a place where I’m likely to explode. So far so good.

I’m dealing with some light confusion, which is frustrating, especially when I go to say a word and a completely different one comes out. I’m forgetting a lot of things and am having trouble talking, which is embarrassing. (Please note: This entry has been heavily, heavily edited because the original draft was an English graduate’s nightmare. Rambling run-ons and dangling participles and misplaced modifiers! Oh my!)

Additionally, I’m finding that, because my brain is scrambling for endorphins that have always been supplemented by medication, I’m compulsive in heavily craving little “fixes” to the joy-receptors, which are mostly the constant urge to be on social media, buy unimportant crap I don’t need, or click on idiotic links as though feeding my soul McDonald’s. Of course I’m still constantly craving carby, sugary stuff, and I’m having to be hypervigilant about every decision I make and everything I’m putting into my face because my body is SCREAMING at me to indulge in anything that will give me superficial pleasure, and while I don’t believe in complete abstinence, at the moment, giving myself a little of anything turns into a bender regardless of what the particular vice is. Trying to regulate myself and have small meals or tiny snacks is proving to be impossible; I go ahead and accept that I’m going to fill up every time I eat and plan accordingly (letting myself binge-eat fresh produce is WAY better than being unable to stop eating Cheerios after dinner, I think.)

And if you’re wondering: yes, I’m pretty pissed that withdrawal is giving me a binge-eating disorder (that I hope will be temporary.) I properly freaked out about it a few weeks ago when I realized that my body wasn’t letting up with intense, compulsive cravings until I’ve eaten to the point of disgust and my best efforts to stop weren’t helping, but I think accepting it as a part of withdrawal and working on damage control instead of trying to deny that it’s happening is probably best. I’ve done a little research and am taking chromium picolinate and L-glutamine supplements to curb the carb cravings and help all of it metabolize so I don’t get prediabetic. Also, I’m eating a bunch of stuff to help me feel fuller (chia seeds, coffee, eggs, almonds) and trying to avoid sugars and pasta/bread. THIS HAS HELPED TREMENDOUSLY. Trying to healthily manage the beast seems like a more plausible solution than attempting to slay it at this juncture. Hopefully, my appetite will taper down as the withdrawal fades away, but cramming my body with healthy stuffs seems like an okay way to spend a couple months given the alternative.

In happier news, my muscles are finally coming back to life, and my energy levels are fantastic. As I’ve mentioned before, spending this whole spring lying in bed and crying with agony did nothing for my body, so the first couple weeks I was on my feet again, my entire lower half was aaaching at the end of every day from working under additional weight. I’ve been walking daily and doing yoga for the last month and I’m finally at a place where I can function all day and have plenty of energy without aches or pains, which, feels like a feat after the quarter I’ve just had. Just being able to go to bed without having to take an ibuprofen for my calves and ankles feels like a great accomplishment, and even though I haven’t lost a pound, I can tell things are shifting back into proper form. Whew.

So right now I’m just struggling with not being bitchy and curt. Again, it’s not wrathful, and I’m not deeply angry for no apparent reason (which also is a huge relief. THANKS, THERAPY!), but it’s just this ongoing irritability I hate. However, I’m finally getting around to doing some creative projects I’ve been wanting to for awhile and that makes my demeanor better.

Onward.

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014 | Author:

Apparently, spending two months barely mobile after an 18-month Effexor-induced weight-gain-and-lethargy/fatigue spree is a very efficient way to turn yourself into an 80-year-old practically overnight. Couple that with my system freaking out and craving ALLTHECARBSRIGHTNOW during withdrawal and my body is just a complete disaster at the moment, which is unfortunate because my mind is the calmest, most content and optimistic it has been in almost two decades.

That’s a first.

Obviously, I’ve been conscious of how my body was derailing in the last while, but I made up my mind at the beginning that figuring out an end to my psychiatric woes was far more important than freaking out over weight gain; I’ve lost this 50 lbs before when I had my daughter. No sweat. Now that my brain is feeling healthy and fantastic, and I’m eager to get my life back on track, I was all, “Alright! Let’s cut some calories and get to exercising! Game ooonn!” However, I wasn’t prepared for how unbelievably far gone I actually am at this juncture.

First of all, after being on a carb bender for the last two months (seriously, withdrawal is the worst. No wonder heroin addicts get fat in rehab…) my body was like, “Oh WHOA, dude; you’re not just gonna stop all this immediately.” So, while I’ve cut out bread and pasta, I’m still eating nonstop just so I don’t start feeling like I’m going to puke/faint/implode. This week’s goal is just to eat something fresh and natural (and preferably raw) when I’m craving food (which is literally still on the hour, pretty much) and not even worrying about caloric intake just yet. This feels ridiculous. I’ve never had cravings like this, even when I was pregnant…

Secondly, my muscular capabilities are nil. I’m doing about a 20-minute mile these days, and by the end of the second one, I’m exhausted. I’ve been increasingly active around the house, but by the end of the day, my feet and legs are aching from carrying all this extra weight when they’re barely used to working more than 40 minutes a day in 5-minute spurts. The fatigue and musculoskeletal aches and pains from withdrawal are gone, but now my body is having to remember what it’s like to generate its own power and it is crrreaking back to life.
I’m not even going to discuss upper body strength. Just don’t ask me to help carry your groceries inside.

Look, I realize that this could be worse – I could be in physical therapy from a car accident or recovering from cancer or paralyzed for life – but I still feel completely wrecked physically from an ailment that isn’t even addressed by doctors (SSRI withdrawal) after being put on these meds that wreaked havoc on every aspect of my life for a couple years, and I’m trying really, really hard not to be fucking pissed about it. Because I know that this is a lot more useless whining, but having to recover from what I thought/was supposed to be “recovery” is complete and utter horseshit.

Well, at least I can honestly state from experience that I would definitely rather be sane/happy and physically screwed up than skinny and mentally wrecked because, in the last 5 years, I have seen both extremes.
Mirth absolutely is all about how healthy your mind is; that’s where one’s paradise or hell exist.

Only took me 20 years, but that cliché totally checks out!

Monday, June 16th, 2014 | Author:

In honor of the LPGA U.S. Open starting today, I thought I’d share the story of the time I singlehandedly cost my high school the 1997 State Championship women’s golf title. It is a doooozy of spectacular proportions and is an ideal parable for both the perils of making expectations about other people and the beauty of perspective.

The public high school where I spent my freshman and sophomore years was brand new at the time and happened to have among us two of the best female players in the state; we just needed a third player to qualify as a team, and because my father made his career developing golf courses and I’d grown up in Pinehurst (the original self-proclaimed “Golf Capital of the World” outside of, you know, Scotland), the organizer was adamant that I’d make a perfect candidate. Said organizer was also my volleyball coach, which was a sport in which I was admittedly pretty awesome, so she straight-up refused to believe me when I said, “I really, really can’t play golf, Coach. Seriously, this is a terrible idea” and, I assume, just thought I was being modest. She was convinced that I could go out there and “hold [my] own” since I’d been raised in a golfing family, and so, after her relentless begging for almost a month, I acquiesced.

I’ll keep this short: The three of us traveled four hours from Myrtle Beach (the other self-proclaimed “Golf Capital of the World”) across the state to the tournament, which was held in even-more-out-in-the-middle-of-Nowheresville, SC. The two girls on the team scored the best in the entire state, and we were an easy choice to take the whole thing, even if I shot an outlandish 120.

I shot 154.

I couldn’t stop laughing; it was too absurd… and then laughing about how unashamed I was about the whole thing.

Alright, wait.
I legitimately had done my best out there because I didn’t want to make a mockery of the thing deliberately. I was raised with manners, for God’s sake. And integrity.
Also, I felt genuinely sorry for the other two girls who were maybe hoping this whole thing would be a beautiful underdog story that would put our sparkling new high school on the map and possibly help them catch the eye of scouts for potential collegiate golf careers. But I’m not sure how they felt about it, really, because they made sure to never speak to me again.

However, the look of shock and horror that slowly crept across Coach’s face as she watched my swiftly-unraveling game was the funniest thing to happen on a golf course short of Bill Murray mumbling about a Cinderella story. I even told a few friends about the catastrophic ridiculousness of my game with a shrug and the honest assessment that, “I DID say it was a bad idea…”

What’s most interesting to me all these years later is this: At the time, I was of the age where I was shamed very, very easily.
Call me “overweight”? I’ll be a wreck of tears and starvation for a month.
Fart in mixed company? Not going to show my face for the next hour.
But grandly, publicly, comically botching a state championship in front of hundreds of people in a sport I absolutely don’t care about? Hilarious.

..and easily dismissed, too. This was something that not only never bothered me, but that I quickly forgot about. Telling people I played golf in a state title tournament is one of those pieces of personal trivia I reserve for games of “Two Truths and a Lie”, and people always assume that that’s the lie.

So there are two lessons here, really:
1) Shame and embarrassment are all relative to what we put value on and our individual perceptions of what “failure” actually means.
2) Don’t make assumptions on a person just because of their lifestyle’s circumstances.

Oh, and 3) I cannot effing play golf. So don’t ask.

NOTE: My sincere apologies to Katie B. and Serena (Selena?), wherever they are, who probably never found this whole thing as hilarious as I, but who never once said anything negative about it to me like total class acts. It would’ve been a real honor to play with you had I actually been playing golf that day.

Monday, June 09th, 2014 | Author:

When I decided to detox from psychiatric medication, I knew better than to put any sort of expectations on the process, so I didn’t. However, I absolutely wasn’t expecting this.

All the drugs are out of my body now, which is a relief because that was a seriously uncomfortable six-week span of time. (Not only did the withdrawal symptoms run the entire gamut, but the dryness in my earsnosethroat region lead to two separate infections that required no less than four antibiotic treatments – one of which was administered via needle into my butt at tooeffingearly o’clock. Grumblegrumblegrumble…) I’d read that many people were excited to be greeted with a gorgeous, beautiful reality in which everything was vivid and colorful and full of wonder, but my fears stopped me from anticipating that, and I secretly stayed nervous that I’d plunge back into the depths of that oily, dark, suicidal depression I’d battled with for the years before I started getting psychiatric aid. I didn’t sit around dreading it, but I wasn’t oblivious to the very real possibility that more awfulness was lurking just over the threshold. I just didn’t know what would happen when I was left to my own mental devices.

Instead, I got the one thing I’d not even thought about: I feel fine.

Let me clarify that. I don’t feel amazing or terrible or moody or, actually, anyplace specific. I’m fine. I feel fine. I’m content, but not overjoyed; I’m cautious, but not paranoid; I’m peaceful, but not euphoric. I’m just… I’m fine.

Dude. I don’t think I’ve ever been “fine.”

I’ve always aaalways been at one extreme or another; I’ve even always said that “I feel things in technicolor.” I’m known for getting passionately angry about “silly things” (for example: I’ve been known to go on tirades about varied musical artists and pop culture in general for entirely too long… It’s sorta my thing… Or, it was) or wildly excited about things that ordinarily aren’t a huge deal… or even a “deal”…

Without the medicine in my system, I’m down to a range of “Oh, hey! Neat!” for things that are pleasing and “Well, that sucks.” for things I find disagreeable. And, a lot of the time, I don’t have any real feelings about stuff at all... which is a foreign concept to me altogether.

I feel like a part of this is what happens with age, but, noting the suddenness of it, I’m inclined to believe that it was the medicine holding me in that youthful intensity for so long, which, in turn, lead to a lot of my overanalyzing and grandly reacting to practically everything. I wasn’t unaware of the fact that I tended to be a Crazymaker at times, and, especially in the last couple years, I’ve found myself engaging in general Crazymaking behaviors, being completely aware of how I was acting, and still being entirely unable to stop myself. I never once thought that it could possibly be my medication perpetuating that sort of constantly-intense mindset I’d always assumed was a part of my natural makeup, and yet, as I’ve observed my thoughts and reactions wind slowly down as the chemicals have left my body, I’m more and more convinced that that is, in fact, what was happening.

So that sucks.

However.
It’s amazing to have such a welcome relief from the type of mind I thought I’d been cursed with. Honestly, this blog post is the most analyzing and regimented thought I’ve indulged in in about a week; whereas, before now, writing things down was my only means to the cacophany of thought going on in my head just fucking constantly.

I’m quiet. And calm. And I’m able to take time before reacting. And I don’t feel like talking so much. And I’m okay being still and not having to connect with people compulsively in order to feel alive (that was a huge thing for me. It’s why I’ve become so hopelessly addicted to social media in the years since I became homebound with a child.)
This is a new reality for me altogether. I really, really like it.

Making the sole, executive decision to get away from this medication I was repeatedly told I’d never be able to live without again and trying to figure out who I’ve actually become in the decade since I started psychological/psychiatric treatment is turning out to be the very best thing I’ve ever done for myself.

The next challenge is re-learning to generate my own energy. Every morning for the last howevermany years, I knew I wasn’t “on” until I heard/felt that little fizzy-crackle behind my ears that told me my medications were in my system and propelling me forward. In the last couple months, it’s been weird to get used to waking up and remembering that there is no “magic” pill that will power me up for the day (I’m not gonna start a caffeine addiction because I don’t wanna) and I’ve discovered that my body isn’t used to keeping itself energized on its own, so building my own strength has been a bit of an uphill battle, especially since I’ve been on antibiotics during this time. I’m trying not to be hard on myself because, again, I’ve been dependent on psychiatry for more than a decade now, so expecting myself to be able to jump back into full gear is a bit ridiculous. But I’m slowly getting myself more active and making sure to get all the nutrient support I need without stalling the process on booze or copious sugars. I have a feeling this crap would be easier if I was still in my early twenties, but whaddayagonnado? It’s slow going, but it’s happening.

Ultimately, what I’m finding is that I’m not just recovering the person I was when I first started Crazypills; I’m discovering that that person was able to heal and turn into someone else entirely, which is a far better story than what I’d anticipated at any point. I’m really, really glad my Inner Self has hesitated to crank out a memoir during these years (despite my frustrated desire to produce one), because a story of healing from mental illness and chronic depression [in this world where we are still being taught that this is impossible] is one I’d be much, much more passionate about and driven to share. In 12 years with therapists and counselors, nobody ever told me, “What if you tried to heal? What if you didn’t need this anymore?” until about 9 months ago, and I think working toward actually recovering (instead of being “in recovery” for the rest of my life like the majority of the industry teaches) is what has been the thing that helped me turn the corner. I know it seems ridiculous to say, “I didn’t know I could heal until someone told me I could”, but being that we’re still in what I consider to be the Dark Ages of Psychiatry, it’s been hard to know when to trust my gut, especially when my gut thought I should kill myself at one point.

I know. I’m rambling. My point is that this is a far better ending to the memoir-in-progress than whatever I’d planned before now. I’m not done with this phase, but, if it continues giving me these unexpected surprises, I’ll be more than ecstatic to write about it when it’s time.

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014 | Author:

I’ll get the bad news out of the way first: shit got just godawful terrible for a brief spell last week. See, I didn’t know (or, rather, my fuzzy brain had forgotten) that intense crying spells of despair were also part of the withdrawal process, so when I was feeling the inherent need to violently sob for about four hours, I took it more seriously than I should’ve. Unfortunately, these withdrawal-induced crying jags are usually punctuated with seriously convincing, all-encompassing suicidal drives, which was another dynamic I absolutely did not see coming, so… I’ll just say things got very, very dark and scary last Tuesday evening. (It bears repeating that I am, once again, endlessly grateful to my husband and my daughter; the former for his patience and the latter for her existence.)

ANYWAY, once the air/my mind cleared the next day, and I was able to see that my emotions were founded in a problem that was absolutely surmountable, and were, in fact, identified as yet more of the withdrawal crap, things felt considerably more tolerable and I feel better prepared if I get attacked by another one. Apparently, crying spells are among the symptoms that crop up later in withdrawal, which could make me frustrated and pissy all over again if I let it…grumblegrumblegrumble…

HowEVER, things in the physical realm have been slowly getting better. I’m no longer having vertigo, so I’m not needing to shuffle around with a cane anymore, much to my daughter’s disappointment. I’m still experiencing fatigue, but every day, I’m able to get up and do more for longer spurts of time before I need to go lie down with exhaustion. The body aches were pretty terrible up until a couple days ago, and I was actually able to play Just Dance 3 at a small Memorial Day get-together we had at our house (this is kind of huge, actually.) The nausea has gone away; although the severe dryness in my ears/nose/throat has lead to two different infections in the last month (the first I treated with antibiotics. the second I’m just going to live with.) But the loud ringing in my ears and pressure changes in my head and cloudiness over my eyes and around my periphery are gone and, honestly, that’s the best thing that could happen. I can deal with other aches and pains, but feeling like I was underwater in a hurricane at night on top of all that was too much.

I don’t wanna get ahead of myself, but I think the worst may be over. Above everything is that my character is coming back and I’m having real joy and interest in things I know are true to myself, which, honestly is the entire reason I’m doing this in the first place. Seeing that what I’m doing is already having the intended results I want is enough to make that gigantic laundry list of withdrawal symptoms absolutely worth it. #Halleloo

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014 | Author:

All of this should be prefaced by restating that, as the Effexor’s hold on my psyche slowly increased during the years I was on it, it literally sucked my will to experience life dry, which means that a lot of things fell by the wayside. This is a gigantic part of the reason I’m quitting it in the first place (as I mentioned in-depth earlier), so it stands to reason that it’s the months of apathy and resulting piles of mental/physical “euckh” I’m actually dealing with the most now aside from the SSRI withdrawal syndrome (which, again, is a @#$%ing real %$#!ing thing…)
Things are developing, which is good. Here’s the lowdown:

The GREAT!!
My will to thrive has returned in full, which is exciting. My mind isn’t racing and I’m not feeling manic or ridiculously overzealous about hurling myself forward, but I’m actually excited about stuff like getting my house in order and catching up/regaining a normal fucking day-to-day life that includes being productive and enjoying things! I’m doing spring-clean-y stuff and selling/donating/purging outdated clothes/housewares and slowly getting shit going again. I even went out and touched-up a “street art” piece I’d been meaning to do for literally 9 months now (I bought the paint that long ago. Ridiculous.) I can’t really describe how it feels to be excited about desiring to do the mundane, but it is among the things that I am most grateful for at the moment. THIS is why I knew, in my heart, that quitting these godforsaken medications was what I needed. Score yet another for intuition.

The Ongoing Bad
The thing about recovery in any form is that one always expects it to be a steady, gradual course, but it never, ever is; this includes recovering physically, unfortunately. It wasn’t recommended by anybody, but I weaned myself off the drugs relatively quickly, because the more I read about it, the more I found that people were describing the hideous withdrawal symptoms all along, no matter how quickly they decreased their dosage and, frankly, I’d rather be severely miserable for a month than generally miserable for six. I’m a rip-the-damned-bandaid-off-already kind of gal. (In a barely-related story: I also genuinely like spoilers. Bring ‘em on. I hate suspense.) So I basically took the hard route and committed to just being tortured and incapacitated for a short amount of time. Unfortunately, after being “clean” of the Effexor/Cymbalta for a couple weeks, my plans hit a snag last weekend when my husband was out of town and I was still in physical misery; HOWEVER, I also found myself literally being woken up every 4-6 minutes with the most horrifying, vivid dreams I’ve ever experienced. Not only were they hyper-realistic in that they moved seamlessly into my real-life situation, but I was experiencing physical sensations to boot. It was insufferable and I finally caved and took a fraction of a dose of the SNRI to stop the withdrawal symptoms. They worked like a charm, and I was immediately able to sleep with no problems, but I’m terrified I reset my whole system and have prolonged the detox process. Dammit.

The Relatively Ugly
Another fun thing I didn’t know about Effexor is that it is precisely what has been contributing to my weight gain in the last couple years (aside from the Fat Miley project, in which I openly embraced putting on a few for the sake of art. #WorthIt) Not only does it make cravings uncontrollable (and will punish your psyche severely if you try to abstain), but it makes the weight harder to work off. And as it worked on my apathy, I sort of stopped giving a crap because, really? Being a little fat is a ton of fun once you stop giving a shit what society says about it. Seriously. Everything’s a little cushier and more comfortable; you stop giving a shit about whether or not your tailored stuff is gonna fit because you know it isn’t and you embrace clothes that are more flowy and easygoing anyway. It’s kind of like walking around in a fatsuit, which is just a bunch of pillows wrapped around your bones. Fluffy!
I mean, I knew I was getting on the unhealthier side, and I sure did miss wearing most of the stuff in my closet, but I’ve lost baby weight before and I wasn’t too worried about being able to lose it again; I just didn’t have any real drive to do it… or anything for that matter. Being 50 lbs overweight was a bit of a fun adventure/life experience. I have no regrets on that front.
HOWEVER, now that I’m trying to get my body back in gear, it is embarrassingly hard. Even when I was humongous and pregnant, I still was active enough to get back on the horse once the baby was outside my body. Aside from the general pain and dizziness from the withdrawal, I’m trying to push through and get a little cardio for endorphins’ sake.
I went for a walk today. I went 2 miles. It took me 40 MINUTES.
Apparently, sitting around in apathy has hit the “reset” button on my personal stamina. I literally have never been in this bad of physical shape before.
It is a daunting task to think of getting out of this hole.
I genuinely am not worried about losing the weight so much as I am my ability to get my strength back in what feels like a completely foreign body. The weight will work itself out, but dear LORD, do I feel physically useless.

To be honest, in this apathy spree of mine, I’ve sort of just not given a shit about how I look at all. Putting my concern on my quality of life and my mental state has definitely been more important, and, honestly, taking a break from the societally-induced vanity we’re all expected to adhere to has been kind of nice. I love playing with makeup, but I’ve only done so about once a month for the last quarter-and-change. I’ve been living mostly in maxi dresses/skirts and cinching my waist to give myself a shape, but not really paying much attention to appearance on a daily basis. Between that and not getting much physical activity, I feel completely disconnected to my body; I’ve been living mostly in my fuzzy brain.
As much as I’ve always hated women who primp for hours, I don’t think setting up a routine to at least put on mascara or do a vibrant lip for myself every morning after I meditate is a bad thing right now, even if I don’t plan on seeing anybody during the day. I need to start acknowledging this body if I’m going to heal it, too, I think.

It seems like I’m writing my own How to Heal Thyself manual. I like where this rough draft is going.