Tag-Archive for » recovery «

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.

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.

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014 | Author:

No matter how many glassy-eyed people try to tell me that “Happiness is a CHOICE and I CHOOSE to be HAPPY!!!“, the real, hard truth of the matter is that emotions exist and denying/mishandling them is literally the cause of every single problem humanity has. However, this isn’t to say that I advocate living a life of gloom and cynicism all in the name of “being realistic” because that’s equally a load of shite.

The Truth is that Life is terrible and beautiful and heartbreaking and exhilarating and tragic and magical and wonderful and it is perfect because it is all those things. Trying to deny feeling any of that isn’t living a genuine existence, and you don’t have to believe that, but science and history prove that neglected emotion is gonna manifest into something uncontrollable in one facet or another.

Feelings are like tampons; they serve a purpose, but you gotta get them out of you or else they fester and get really, really disgusting and cause a whole host of problems that you never bargained for.

And look, I’m not a completely irrational idiot; I definitely recognize that emotions have a time and a place and there’s no good in being completely controlled by any one of them. When shit gets bad, I definitely understand that letting myself get destroyed by grief or anger is useless and only hurts myself. I get that.

But I still want to punch people when they say things like, “Well, there’s no use getting mad/sad/whatever about it.” Sure, there’s no logical reason, but humans aren’t entirely logic-based creatures; that’s why we fall in love. I’m not going to show up at someone’s birthday party and proclaim, “Well, there’s no use in having TOO good a time here because life is going to be the same thing tomorrow…”
See how insufferably ridiculous that is?

I absolutely believe in seeking happiness throughout our lives. That’s one of the Woodcraft Laws I live by.
However, that doesn’t mean that sadness or anger or loneliness or even misery are things to fear and avoid. There’s a lot of learning to be done in those emotions; that’s where life actually exists.

Unfortunately, I’m one of those people who tends to get consumed by emotion if there’s something serious I’m struggling with. It’s all I can think about; it dominates my mind and my interactions and my energy and it makes me its puppet. I’ve tried suppressing my overwhelming emotions, but that backfires tremendously every time and leaves me in a worse state than before on a number of levels.

A number of years ago, I went through a really godawful breakup that coincided with (and probably contributed to, if I’m being serious) a humongous personal life crisis in which everything sort of just fell the fuck apart. It was awful. At the time, I was in a place in my life where I had momentum going in other areas and I couldn’t afford to just completely lose my shit entirely; however, the overwhelming pain of everything was interfering with literally every aspect of my life.

So I started allotting myself a set period of time every day to completely embrace the pain. (I think that’s sort of what that “lean in” crap I keep hearing about advocates in a way, right?) I would find a space to go and throw myself an over-the-top, no-holds-barred, flaming pity party. I’d do it sober, so I wasn’t trying to deaden any of the emotions and I’d sit there and dwell on every terrible, awful feeling I was having and just sob and sob like a crazy person. I’d look at pictures and go through memories and yell at inanimate stuff and write a bunch of letters I never intended to send and just sat there, reeeaaally letting out all the Crazy and then steeping in my misery without projecting it anywhere.

And what I found was that, when doing this, I’d literally exhaust my emotion to the point where it wasn’t nagging me to entertain it and I could get back to my life. At first, it took about an hour of absolute wallowing. And then the next day, when the feelings started nagging me at the beginning of the day, I could think, “Nope. You can deal with this crap at 2 p.m! Right now, let’s do this task in front of us.” and it would totally work! By consciously knowing that I’d have a chance every day to feel whatever it was my emotions needed to, I wasn’t distracted by them at inopportune times. Within a week, I was down to crying about it for about 15 minutes. Within two weeks, I was just sort of sad for a small amount of time each day, but I found myself being free to feel other feelings, like how really, really happy I was to be young and single and how there were so many things I’d never tried when I was busy being plugged up someone else’s ass that I suddenly had plenty of time to do. By taking care of the grief, I cleared room for other emotions to come in and play.

I stopped doing this after this one incident because things in my life got significantly better and my lifestyle with a child and husband didn’t really facilitate me sitting down and thinking about bad stuff once a day. After all, that’s what Oprah and all these other tireless optimists keep screaming at us; that it does no good to feel anything but happy! ALL THE TIME!! Anything else is useless and self-defeating and selfish. Right?

Well, that’s the Flavor-Aid I’ve been drinking (BTW, “Kool-Aid” gets a terrible rap because that wasn’t even the brand used at Jonestown. Get your facts straight, pop culture. Gawd.) and, the more I try to convince myself that I can be perpetually happy all the time and it’s a choice and blah, the more I see how completely idiotic and numbing such a lifestyle is. (This is highlighted heavily in the brilliant work “The Antidote: Happiness for People who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking”, which I highly recommend.) I feel sad. I feel angry. Acting like those are “wrong” or should be avoidable is only hurting me and making things more complicated than they need to be.

So I’m all in favor of self-thrown pity parties when needed. Things have been very, very frustrating recently and I kept finding myself wanting to get actively frustrated and sad and angry about things, and then trying to cram that all down with the positive-thinking shame-based brain reform and it’s driving me even more insane than I need to be.

Fuck that.

I’m sitting down and treating those emotions like they’re small children trying to get my attention, because they’re there for a reason. They’re my subconscious alerting me to the fact that I need to pay attention to something going on in me and trying to swat away negative feelings is just causing them to get worse. I’m sitting with the feelings and I’m not doing anything about them except feeling them, soberly, completely, and all by myself. I’m not deadening the pain with any outside substances; I’m not projecting it outward onto anyone or anything; I’m not feeding it with crappy food or tobacco or whatever other vices I have access to… I’m just inviting them to have their say completely and feeling them for exactly what they are. I’m not trying to “figure out” what they mean or try to “fix” them; I don’t try to apply reason to them or try to calm myself down into “rational” thinking. I just let them get out.

And, sure enough, once I recognize them and let them have their say, my mind magically clears itself up and I feel light and full of room and energy to focus on the positive things again. Not only that, I feel a little more fearless with each practice. So many times, I think people reject their feelings because they’re terrified of them, but the truth is that, once you see that you can’t die from them and that they actually go away, they’re not so scary. They just need a little attention and understanding that this is part of the human condition. Having feelings (no matter how irrational) is part of paying rent to live here in this body. It’s part of being alive and experiencing dichotomies of emotion. It’s pretty much one of the most special parts of being human.

I used to have a really hard time “letting go” of emotions; I consciously knew that’s what I was supposed to do in order to heal, but I just didn’t know how. I can’t even tell you how many frustrated hours I meditated just trying to rid myself of leftover garbage I didn’t want. However, every time I’ve done this practice, I’ve been amazed at how clear and light I feel afterward, and the progression of how I feel over the course of greater expanses of time is astonishing with regards to feeling released from my emotions. By feeling whatever I do without trying to “solve” them, I find that my mind is much less judgmental about my problems in general, which allows me to work on them on a more relaxed, organic level.

After returning to this method after having put it aside for so long, I’m more convinced than ever that this is the style of meditation I most believe in. I know “mindfulness” is all about observing feelings, but I believe I’m a proponent of taking that one step further and letting oneself become engulfed without any distraction or apology and then letting your mind carry you safely to the other side, which it’s designed to do. That’s what healing is; I can’t heal from something if I’m trying to ignore the pain alerting me to the thing that’s damaged.

So there you go. Throw yourself a pity party. Invite only one person and make it super exclusive with no gift bags. Keep it clean and sober, but pull out all the stops and feel every single thing your brain has been nagging you with.
And don’t even stress about what to do with those feelings when you’re done; they’ll show themselves out.

Thursday, May 08th, 2014 | Author:

Updates in Bullet Points (that are a little rambly in and of themselves):

~ My spirit feels really serene and good. You know that place right in the center of your chest that drops when you find out about someone dying or your lover leaves you and feels excited when something good is about to happen? It’s been light and calm during everything going on right now, and that’s a first… in general, actually. So, if someone were to ask, I’d have to say, “I’m wonderful”.

~However, OMGthisisthewaaaoooorst I have ever physically felt. Ever. And I’ve been in Pitocin-induced labor after 26 hours of doing it naturally… Luckily, I’m not gonna list all my ailments because 1) it’d be really long and 2) it’d hurt to do so and 3) I don’t want to bore you, but yes. Oww. And aaaauuuuuuugggghhh.

~ Oh man, thank God for my ability to go back on my original full dose of Lamictal, because that definitely stopped the mania before it got out of hand. In fact, it brought it all back in to “reasonable” mode, which is more than I expected.

~ That being said, the Emotions are all here and they’re into making the most of their visit. I kind of blew off the reports other people had about mood swings during withdrawal because I’ve gotten really good at observing my own, but ohman. First there was the “FAAAACK AAAVAAARYYTHIIIING!!!” type of Rage which was the worst because my sick brain could totally justify all of it. Needless to say, I quickly adopted a Buddhist/meditate-y approach and allowed myself to stand back and “observe” the emotions… like clouds wafting across a clear blue sky… aaahhh… which meant telling Greg and the Bear to leave me alone until I’m done being a beast. Since then, aaaalll the rest of the feelings have come out to play and go digging for memories and it’s the worst. I can’t even go to sleep without vivid flashbacks of people and situations cropping up to make me feel old stuff again and again and again. I’ve been working overtime to distract myself with things that will do the thinking for me, like movies or books. (Gardening doesn’t work at this juncture, unfortunately.)

~ On the other hand, though, I AM rather glad I’ve spent so much time learning about mindfulness, so while the emotions are all righthererightnow (and in technicolor!), I’m not acting on any of them. Also! I can recognize that they’re artificial at this point and don’t have anything to do with me or my immediate life. It’s kind of a weird sensation, but I’m glad I’m not volatile and outwardly crazy like usual. For now, I’m just cordoning myself off until the noise blows over so I don’t risk biting anyone’s head off or ruining my relationship with anyone. And I’m distracting myself mentally so I’m not sitting around crying about whoevenknowswhat like my brain seems to want me to.

~Things are slowly getting better day by day. And all the supplements are helping AMAZINGLY with the brain flashes and other weirdness. I realize this could actually be a lot worse, and I’m grateful that it isn’t. I think by the end of next week I’ll be a fully functioning human being again. Huzzah!

Saturday, April 26th, 2014 | Author:

There’s more to life than this. I’m trying something radical, and I’m doing it under doctor’s supervision, and I’m pretty terrified, but I’ve had enough.

I’ve been on antidepressants for more than ten effing years now. In that time, I’ve developed anxiety, fatigue, PGAD, musculoskeletal aches and pains (like fibromyalgia) and bipolar disorder. Before I started antidepressants, I had none of those things – only the severe depression. In the decade I’ve been cycling through to try to find the “right medication”, I’ve been constantly sick with some random ailment, I’ve piled weight on and lost tons (without really changing anything in a couple cases), and, once, I developed an endocrinological disorder that had me in and out of the ER and seeing a specialist who gave me an endoscopy and found nothing. (This was remedied when I stopped taking the psych meds I’d recently been put on. Miraculous.) Every other year or so, my body adapts to the drugs so entirely that they stop working and I either have to be pumped full of more or changed up altogether, which is nothing short of torture for a few days while my entire psychological/physical system detoxes from the addiction of one and moves to another.

I’m sick of it. I’m fucking done.

I know that sounds terrifying and dangerous, but I’ve been talking to my doctors about this and it’s something I feel confident I should at least try with close supervision. I NEVER had manic episodes or anxiety until I started trying out different antidepressants (and, for a while, Adderall/Vyvanse that one of the quacks I saw gave me to “jump start me out of bed”. Christ…) and I truthfully don’t even know what my natural existence would even feel like anymore. After a decade’s worth of therapy, learning tools for managing my ridiculously intense emotions/conflicting exterior dynamics, and healing from all the stuff that was making me depressed in the first place when all my Crazy started, who knows how my natural mental state would actually maintain?

We intend to find out.

I’ve been researching the hell out of this (I was ESPECIALLY bothered when I joined a forum for people quitting Effexor – which is worse than heroin withdrawal – and saw SO many people listing the same EXACT side effects as I’ve had, INCLUDING the PGAD.), and the first couple weeks are going to be rough. Like stay-in-bed-twitching-and-aching rough. But, frankly, I’ve done that before, and as long as I know it’ll pass, I’ll be okay. After that, we’re just going to monitor my behaviors and moods vigilantly and I’ll probably lay low for a bit while I adjust, but I intend to continue getting a ton of supplements and sunshine and exercise when I can. My doctor has moved me over to Cymbalta to wean off of instead of trying it with the Effexor because they’re comparable, but the former will take care of the fibromyalgic-type pains I’ve had for a couple years now. In the meantime, I’m going to be going heavy on B-complexes and Omegas 3, 6, and 9.

I’m fucking done with years of endless side effects and adjustments and jumping from one addictive substance to another without ever feeling “right”. I’m sick of constantly having some new physical demon to battle and experiencing behaviors I never ever had before even though I’m supposed to be on medicines that will “fix” everything. I’m tired of being handed new diagnoses for things I never actually exhibited before I was taking this stuff. And, most recently, I’m sick of feeling nothing and wasting my time and my life being apathetic and useless.

I’m ready to find a new way of life because this shit isn’t working. Here’s to getting back to basics.

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014 | Author:

I haven’t felt anything in a little over four months and I can’t fucking stand it anymore.

It’s been a period of consistency and general peace in my psyche, which is a respite in and of itself, and has given me and my family some time to heal and work on our communications and intimacy. I’ve been able to rationally work through some turbulence from my past that had been haunting me daily up until now, and I’ve been able to make peace with a lot. It’s been much needed since the waters have been so, so tumultuous in the last years (especially this most recent one.)

But on a daily basis, I am barely existing. At first, I thought I was giving myself room to just “be” (as I’d discussed with my therapist) because I’d finally moved out of my catastrophic guilt and anxiety and was enjoying the freedom of not feeling crushed by the idea that I’d never be good enough every single second. It, also, was a relief.

But, the truth is, I’m sort of just getting things done around the house and nothing else. Nothing excites me at all. Nothing. I haven’t read a book in four months. I wasted about three months spending most of the day watching “Snapped” reruns on YouTube. I don’t write anything anymore because I don’t feel like it. I don’t do anything inspired anymore because I just don’t see the point.

I’m not sad. I feel very peaceful, but bored. Recently, I experimented with taking myself off my bipolar medication (Lamictal) while being very, very vigilant about my behavior and, within a week, I found myself excited about things again and motivated to a reasonable degree. It was wonderful.
Then I got scared I’d go off the deep end again, (that last one was so terrifying that I’m still recovering from it) so I went back on the recommended dosage, and now I’m back to lethargic apathy. I’m hungrier on this medication and I keep gaining (even more) weight and not really caring. I just feel weak and frail and strange when I go to the gym instead of fulfilled and energized like usual, and I have to force myself to get there; most days it doesn’t happen.

Actually, I’ve been forcing most of my behaviors in the last 4-5 months, because I’ve been told that sometimes you have to “fake it till you make it” when it comes to psychological states.
It isn’t working.

I’m not acting like myself. I’m not passionate about anything at all anymore. I have no drive to do anything with my life at all.

This isn’t how I want to live.

So now we play the medications game again. Do I let my doctor minimize the mood stabilizer and risk manic insanity again, or do I accept that this robotic existence is easier and healthier on everybody than me having the capacity to feel real joy or sorrow?

I don’t know. I just know that I feel like I’ve been wasting my life since the start of 2014 and I hate it. I see myself wasting precious free time and not giving a shit, and that’s something I know is wrong deep in that part of me that can’t be touched by chemicals.

I’ve got to change this again and find a balance that works somehow. Otherwise, what’s the point in working to stay alive? I didn’t fight this hard to become a housecat.

Friday, February 21st, 2014 | Author:

“There’s nothing wrong with you, Liz,” she said.

For 11 years now, I’ve begged therapists to help me figure out what is wrong with me. Ever since my adolescent depression caused me to stop being That Kid Who Did and Was Wildly Successful at Practically Everything, I started being disappointing, and “difficult”, and I wondered what the hell was suddenly wrong with me that I was miserable and unable to complete things that used to be so easy?

Why am I not yet back to being that overachiever after all this therapy and all these medications and all this meditation and all this self-help crap and all of this “recovery”? Why am I still crippled with anxiety and guilt to the point that I barely accomplish anything on a day-to-day basis? Why do I keep trying to change my lifestyle only to wildly go flying back off the rails when my mind inevitably says, “Oh, fuck this.”? WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH ME?!

Laureen, my current therapist, is the first person in the entire time I’ve been struggling with this to ever look at me, smile, and say, “There is nothing wrong with you.”

She said this on our second meeting together after she’d been listening to my husband discuss the constant roller coaster of insanity I’d kept us on for the year before when he’d been seeing her by himself. I scoffed and thought, “Well, she doesn’t know me yet; she’ll figure it out soon enough.”

But, months later, she still continues with this MO – that there’s nothing wrong with me at all.

And it’s been more effective in changing my life than any other therapy I’ve ever experienced.

I’ve tried for 17 years now to change myself. Constantly. I’m constantly convinced that if I start making myself do some other radical change every single day, I’m going to be “better.” I’ve tried countless diets (I’ve lost and gained the same 30 lbs roughly 12 times now…totally healthy, right?); I’ve decided I’m going to abstain from countless indulgences; I’ve tried putting myself on schedules and/or trying to adhere to routines; I’ve tried saying that I’m going to try to do the same thing every day/week as a means to make myself better. And then I can’t. And I’m submerged in this guilt and feeling of defeat: What is wrong with me that I can’t adhere to a schedule “like everyone else”? Why can’t I say, “I’m gonna work out/do yoga/practice one of my musical instruments/clean house/stay at 1,500 calories every day!” and stick to it? Why can’t I decide to abstain from something like chocolate or social media or something harmless and actually stick with it? Why do I always try to kick these habits and then fly wildly off track and overindulge over and over? What is WRONG with me?

And only recently have I dared to think, “Nothing. There’s nothing wrong with me.”

I’m just different than what I was raised to believe I needed to be. I can’t clean the house a little each day or once a week or on some sort of schedule if I set it out, but it always gets done; it’s never been filthy or in total disarray. I can’t stay on a regimented diet, but when I stopped thinking about it a few years ago, I lost a ton of weight and was at my smallest, most energized, and healthiest; I didn’t have any desire to put a lot of crap into my system. I can’t abstain from things I really love because, inherently, I don’t believe in it; it’s like Erma Bombeck said, “Seize the day. Remember all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart.” And it isn’t reverse psychology; if you were to tell me I could never ever drink root beer or shoot/smoke heroin or listen to Limp Biskit for the rest of my life, there would never be a moment where that whole “You want what you can’t have” crap would come into play. Not ever. But when I try to deny that there are just things I love to do or indulge in every so often, I end up derailing and overindulging and just feeling awful and overcorrect and the whole cycle goes on and on forever. It’s bullshit and I’m tired of it.

When I listen to what my body and mind want, I am productive and I am healthy and I feel accomplished even when it doesn’t at all match up with what I’ve always believed was the best way to achieve things.

I realized that, when I was younger, I was constantly doing. I had literally 2 extracurriculars every day after school except Fridays; I practiced piano everysingleday; I always did something for Girl Scouts or church or theater or piano competitions, etc. on the weekends – and, because my schedule was completely full, I never had a chance to just be. I don’t fault my parents because they did everything they could to give us every single opportunity imaginable, but I now wonder how much of that I even wanted to be doing, and I remember doing a lot of things that I loathed just because it was expected of me – church/rec-league basketball comes to mind; I was more comfortable posing nude for strangers at NCSA than playing basketball in front of people I knew during those tormented seasons.

I think, at some point my spirit realized that constantly doing things wasn’t enough, and I got exhausted denying what I really wanted to do, which was just be. For example, I got tired of pretending I could tolerate Sunday school/youth group where they told us to hate gay people and slut-shame and reject “sinners”, and I wasn’t heard or respected when I expressed my desire to stop for years. Because of this, I spent a lot of time afterward being really, really angry at organized religion instead of just getting away from it. Even now, I’m usually happier spending my spiritual time meditating alone by sitting quietly or walking outdoors or singing or saging or doing yoga, etc.

I went to college because I was “supposed to” and it caused me to crash and burn over and over again for 7 solid years of undergrad including summers. The whole time I wasn’t living up to the accomplishments or habits of my peers (the driven, consistent, intellectual types), I loathed myself for not being as disciplined or regimented. When I was doing things my parents disapproved of (having “weird” friends, exploring different spiritual beliefs, dating people who didn’t fit their ideals, not wanting to wear entire outfits in the comfort of my home, etc.) I lived in constant shame and guilt and found myself hiding out from their judgment, which meant doing the things my heart felt drawn to in secret. This sort of continues with my husband, although to a lesser degree. For example, he hates that I smoke occasionally when I go out – about 2 cigarettes every 2 months- and I finally told him to get over it because I was tired of lying about it when I don’t think it’s a big deal. At all. The same goes for my graffiti projects or having unconventional friends or needing to go on road trips to stay with friends every other month. And even to the day-to-day difference in habits – him being regimented and thriving on routine whereas I am completely the opposite – has been a strain on us as cohabitants. I’ve punished myself for years because I just – as they said in the underrated movie “Life – “can’t get right.”

And I’ve finally decided to embrace this completely novel idea that that lifestyle just isn’t right for me. It doesn’t work. It hasn’t worked for a really, really long time. I’m slamming myself into a round hole when I am a square peg, and it’s just breaking me down and making me crazy.

When I am true to myself, I am capable of doing genuinely great things. I taught at a community college and was able to show up to every class, on time, and give 100% of myself every time because I really, really enjoyed it. (Meanwhile, when I’m doing work where I’m not engaged or feeling like I’m valued, it’s a waste of everyone’s time and money because I’m just going to be mentally clocked out.) When my mind is in the mode to create something, I create really great things, but it can’t happen on any sort of regimented schedule. I get obsessive about things for a very short amount of time and am meticulous about learning it thoroughly or finishing it to the most minor detail until I, much like Jay-Z, am ready to move on to the next one. I clean my house from top to bottom when the whim strikes me, and it always does. I don’t have a problem with these things, even though other people immediately around me have always seemed to. When I allow myself to listen to myself, I take care of myself and nurture my home without overdoing it on any front and feeling like I have to constantly apologize for falling short.

I’m really, really tired of constantly apologizing for myself. And I think I’m just effing done with it. I think, if I start listening to what I actually want, regardless of what literally anybody else has to say about it, I’m going to find myself finding balance and accomplishing things I’m proud of. That’s how it has always worked for me. I need to stop denying that just because anybody else has a problem with it.

I know. It all sounds so cliche, but I have been raised in a culture and with people whose lifestyle is so dissimilar, I’ve always been taught to believe that, because I can’t thrive in that sort of daily life, that there’s something wrong with me.

And it took 6 therapists, 1 AA sponsor, two trips to two separate mental hospitals, and talking my brains out in therapy and prayer for an 11 year period for anybody, ANYBODY to tell me, “There’s nothing wrong with you.”

Fuck what anybody else has to say about it; I’m finally giving myself permission to believe that she’s right.

Category: Recovery and Changes  | Tags: , ,  | Leave a Comment
Tuesday, December 31st, 2013 | Author:

I’m not usually one for the oversentimentalization of New Years, but it seems the lunar cycles have landed us in a good ending/beginning, so I’m going with that. Without any preplanning on my part, the last 12 months were the life/mind-shifting, transformative renaissance I’ve been praying for for decades. I mean, it hurt like a sonofabitch and there were moments that weren’t fun at all and during which everything was going to completely collapse (assuming I didn’t finally sink), but right now is a pretty fantastic new place to be mentally – “mentally” being my entirety when it comes right down to it.

I want to learn the landscape here and how I’m best here. It’s the first time since I can remember that I feel comfortable making long-term plans for myself; I’ve always been too afraid to do that before, and I never took any such aspirations seriously because I’ve carried around a long-held belief that the future somehow didn’t exist for me. (This is how I’ve managed to make it this far while feeling like my life has just happened around me without my immediate participation.)
I want need to change that.

One thing I’ve learned this year is that I have the capacity to change my entire reality, which I’d frankly just never believed was anything more than psychobabble before. But my unwieldy emotions doesn’t wreak havoc on my impulses anymore, thus destroying pretty much everything within arm’s length.

You’ve heard. In fact, most of what I’ve written here is the same sort of thing I’ve written about over and over for all the years I’ve been blogging here. I remember whining about hating the struggle more than a dozen times annually, and I definitely don’t want to do it anymore now that we’re past it. I wanna work in that “past it” space.

So I’ll be “out there” in the real world if you need me. Thanks for reading all this and staying tuned to what seemed like an endless saga of madness. I’m not delusional enough to think that it’s gone forever; I just know this feels different. This peace feels more obvious; I’m not stuck in the same webs of anger or shame I’ve been calling home for ever. I’m wise enough to know I need to make serious lifestyle changes if I’m going to maintain what I have going on immediately. My recovery needs me putting my energies elsewhere. The mental stuff has worked; I need to move it into a physical realm.

I’m also taking all the other entries on SuburbanBohemian down and saving them for my personal archives. They may resurface again; they aren’t unimportant to my story. But, for now they’re going into hiding.

It’s time.

Thanks for giving me the space I needed to work out loud here. It helped. It worked.