New Year – New Health Plan

When I logged into my surgery’s online system today it told me it had been 3 months since I last made an appointment..

I haven’t been that long without seeing a Dr in about 5 years. This is the first time I have spent 2 months without painkillers in that time and for a lot of it I was also on various Psych meds. Ironically I am going back because I need to ask for more contraceptives – otherwise I’d stick med free til I crashed..again, but as it is I don’t know what to say.

Despite the cold weather I am currently functionally mobile and haven’t reached for the co-codamol in tears of pain for at least 3 weeks. This either means that not sitting at the laptop typing for my thesis has reduced the pressure on my joints to an acceptable level (i.e. one that won’t cause trouble in the immediate future) or I have become indifferent to the Naproxen and only occasional painkillers (read extra co-codamol as required) were making any difference anyway.
I am trying to do more physio exercises while my motivation/guilt is high and am really hoping that my joints are doing better. I know that I don’t want to ask for more painkillers, I feel like a junkie just asking, and I really want to focus on making the physio work for me and so thats the plan but in my heart of hearts I know its only a matter of time til I beg for them back again cos that grinding sound aint going away.

As for head-pills.
Fuck
I’m ok. In so far as crying everyday and not being able to get out of bed is ok.
Logic says its the weather and the uncertainty of waiting for a viva added to the sense of pressure about getting a job and finally being a worthwhile financially contributing member of your family that is making you anxious. Logic says sunshine and flowers and exercise and hard work is gonna get you out of this idiocy babe. Logic says eat healthily, get fresh air, exercise, think positively….
Head says – keep doin stuff dammit, wash the dishes and the clothes, walk the dog, do the exercises, write the applications and the articles – you’ll get thereHeart says – I don’t wanna face the world today, hold me and dont let go, please dont die on me, for fucks sake pretty please tell me you want to be with me and you wont kill yourself, just one cut to make the world a little less chaotic, please let me sleep …
But will January blues fade away? Should I go back to citalopram the most successful nothing-in-particular of the past? Is sertraline or something else beckoning? Is it in fact not such a big deal and rather worth skipping over in favour of worrying about it later?

Decisions to be made. Least of which is my wife doesn’t want to be a mother yet.

January

So Recap of how my goals are going this year… and the short answer is that so far they aren’t but…

On a day-by-day level, I am getting up before midday more days than not and in bed before 2am everyday. I am still off the anti-depressants and haven’t yet begged my Dr. for more painkillers..It would be fair to say I might not be calm and cheerful but I’m at least in a ‘stable’ state that I know how to deal with.
The scales say I’m 13st 8lbs, I want them to say 11st.
I am re-starting my calorie counting after the holiday break and although I haven’t actually set out a proper exercise regime – the plan is to: walk to work at least once a week, (swim once a fortnight) and work on the mindful movement practice each day I’m writing my thesis
So far I am working on my thesis at least 2 days a week and I want to make it 3. I can’t really sit at the desk for very long at one go both because my shoulder is stiff and sore and because the anxiety gets too much.
No Further Comment Necessary

In other news, soil delivery for raised beds next week and then trellis to go up and seed shopping. After that we are going puppy-hunting!!

 

Progress..

Sowhere am I at right now?

I have been trying to manage my weight for about a month now and have lost…wait for it 6lbs  – that’s right, not even half a stone of the 3 I want to lose. I know I haven’t been doing as much exercise as I should and I am really fighting myself.

It is also nearly a month since I quit my anti-depressants cold-turkey. Whilst I realise it was probably a dumb thing to do, I don’t regret it. My appetite has gone back down to more normal levels and since the mirtaapine stopped working I haven’t noticed much of a change in my sleep patterns. Since this is the first time I have been med free in 18months or so I’m trying to notice how I actually feel – I’m more irritable, snappy and anxious; not sure if I am more miserable, I’m at a semi-comfortable base-line right now but I have been crying more (otoh W thinks I seem more down). Hard to tell when you have lived this way for a long time..
In a few more weeks I will be able to have another chat with my GP about where to go next. I have applied for more counselling with the local Talking Therapies team but haven’t had a response yet – I am probably low-priority having been seen before. GP wants to know if I want to try Sertraline or a Psychiatrist next.. so what do we think folks?
Shoulder-wise the cold weather has really settled into my bones and it would be fair to say I’m in pain most of the time. c’est la vie. More co-codamol it will have to be and maybe I will think about sleeping pills so it stops waking me up in the night.

Have finished the corrections my supervisors gave me for chapters 3 & 4; so my next challenge is to strengthen chapter 4 conclusions (a never-ending task methinks) and write Chapter 5 – The Conclusion! I am determined to have it done before the mrs and I go on hols in Jan. It terrifies me almost as much as rewriting my literature review but needs must – a thesis without a conclusion is rather pointless.

As far as the 3 of us are doing – I think we are pretty stable and comfortable right now.
So all-in-all we are doing ok peeps. One day at a time.

Quitting Meds

Ever wake up one day and think what is the point of these pills, I should just Quit?

I realise its probably the crazy talking but right now they could all just sod off. I feel like I am piling chemicals down my throat and gaining nothing but inches round my waist; the mad and sad is beating at my skull and every way I stand, lie down or move hurts. Part of me knows that the idea of stopping pills is a kind of weird self-harm, proof to others that I’m not doing alright and damaging all the progress I’ve made but weirdly that doesn’t seem like a bad plan.
So um stopping meds because I feel fat, weepy, useless and in pain is a bad idea?

Ah well, never mind – sense over feeling etc.

Sex Drive of a Panda

Bloody meds, f***ing hormones!

I don’t consider myself to be a raw sexaholic teenage male but neither am I a dried up old maid. I think my sex life is reasonably average – I usually have sex between 3 & 6 times a week, dropping to once or twice if I or my beloveds are miserable or in pain or our social life is oddly frantic and rising 9 or 10 times if we are feeling good. Similarly I consider my sex drive to be fairly average, I think about sex a few times a day, wank regularly and am generally satisfied with the amount of sex I get or else happy to ask for more if desired. Now in my late 20s it seems a fairly comfortable pattern.

So a shift in my desire and performance is odd… and more than odd it is unsettling – more unpleasant in fact than my strangely muted responses.
Loss of libido and anorgasmia are well-known and oft-complained about side effects of a number of anti-depressants; but aside from the first few weeks of prozac I have been largely unaffected. However, for the last few weeks during the tapering off of prozac and the rise in my mirtazapine dosage sex has been off the menu.

Physically -if not emotionally- sex has seemed repulsive (emotionally I crave physical intimacy constantly just as normal). I can to a certain extent relate this to my somewhat feeble self-esteem body image wise and to the fact my hormones aren’t really sure which way is up. In itself this is merely irritating since it is easily ignored in favour of the joyous physical sensations except that orgasms are currently difficult to achieve (even when masturbating!). I will stress this a problem with both my lovers and is not a sudden rush of heterosexuality or monogamy..
But all of this pales into insignificance next to the fact that neither intercourse nor orgasm is reaching the mental and emotional core. Sex is mechanical and unsatisfying no matter how fierce-some the orgasm. I am struggling to find the release and connection I expect from that level of intimacy and its horrendous.

So um yeah bit crotchety right now – think maybe I should have lots of sex until the problem goes away, or else its off to the Dr for me cos appetite changes and sleep problems and random suicidal ideations I can deal with but messin’ with the sex man that’s serious.

 

Fat

I have never been so fat.
My waist is more than 10″ bigger than it was when I was 17 – more than an inch growth a year… I am 3 stone heavier than where I want to be.

I am trying to moderate my eating and get more exercise, but its not enough. I never add salt, I try not to fry, I don’t eat chocolate, I snack on ryvita, I’ve cut back on chips and biscuits and still I am getting fatter. I have weird cravings, I’m tired all the time and I can feel it eating into my self-esteem.

Stupid drugs, stupid me. Ugh. Must work harder, sooo swimming and less booze right?

In other news gig tomorrow. yay

Mood Swings

Maybe its the med switch or maybe its because my hormones are whacked.

But I’m feeling really emotional and unpredictable. Snappy for no particular reason, anti-social (beyond normal bounds), weepy, anxious, unwilling to have physical contact… generally a bit shit.

So..am I blaming the meds? Well maybe, Its now a week since I stopped taking the Prozac so it should be out of my system & I haven’t upped my dose of the mirtazapine (which tbh I think is crapping out on me) and the sleep is screwed.
On the other hand..I don’t know where I am in my menstrual cycle. Is this PMT or is this my body complaining about the fact that because of my meds I don’t have regular periods? Urgh

Being Nice to Me

is a challenge.

Busy hearing the nagging whine that tells me I’m not good enough and all that stuff: You didn’t help Sleepy. He doesn’t want you interfering in his life. You are a hypocrite. You are a liar. Your supervisor is fed up with you & doesn’t want to see you til she has to. Your thesis is bollocks. You don’t look after the people you love. You are selfish. You let them down. You don’t keep in touch with people who have moved away. You aren’t there when they need you. You ruined your sister’s life, you didn’t protect her. Everyone is disappointed in you. You shouldn’t act like you know it all at work. You are ridiculously grumpy at people. you are stupid. you are a fraud. you are a waste of time and space and money…..

Its a familiar litany. Playing a little loudly today – I blame PMT which as a woman it is my right to do for another 25 years or so – but its hard to keep on doing the right thing when your mind won’t be quiet.

However, made it to the Dr.,talked a little about how i’m doing and meds. The guy i saw today isn’t really happy to see me taking my pain meds and wants to fiddle with the head drugs too. [It’d be nice not to have the naproxen but last time I stopped taking it I could barely move, even taking it I am still in pain most of the time, otoh I hate having it in the house cos I don’t trust myself not to od] Anyhow gonna wean myself off the fluoxetine for good I hope (though taking it every other day for a week is going to be a challenge to remember!) and up my dose of mirtazapine which will hopefully sort my sleeping pattern. I was used to taking an hour or so to fall asleep and sleeping a few hours at a time, waking regularly etc until the mirtazapine zapped me into 8hr rest – it was fantastic and now those effects are wearing off I really miss it.
Anyhow actually managing to talk about this to the Dr is me trying to take care of myself. Didn’t manage thesis today but did do a bit of reading [ex-supervisor’s thesis].
Also went to the wake and chatted with various (not sure I’m old enough to only be catching up with people at funerals already), went up to the psych ward but Sleepy didn’t want to see me, so I had a bit of a cry and a nap and then fessed up to B about my arms. I never stop feeling guilty about it – if only it wasn’t so damn good at easing the tension. I don’t heal as well as I used to. Need to be more careful.

So mostly just working on taking care of myself and screw the rest of it cos this is hard enough.

Tomorrow

Ok Dr tomorrow (again. already.) What do I need to do?

More Meds – most importantly Mirtazapine & Naproxen
Talk about Peak Flow Diary?
Weight Gain?
My Arms?

Nah I guess its another day where I’ll just nod and smile and pick up my pills.

Big Steve’s Funeral too – but I’ll skip the crematorium and just go to drinks afterwards and sympathise with people who liked the man
Then up to see Sleepy in hospital

Ah such a rock n roll life!

Medicated Me

A dear friend, here nameless, posted on a prominent social-networking site a link to a piece of social commentary he thought relevant to those he knows on anti-depressants.
My mind is now a-swirl with thoughts and emotions connected to those images, words and ideas…

Read the piece Here

Its not a new idea to suggest that people are taking drugs who don’t necessarily need them and that doing so harms them and possibly society, and I don’t think for a moment the author is attempting to suggest that medication is never appropriate. I am drawn in to the vividness of the author’s prose and the sharpness of his descriptions of emotions yet his experience is alien to me. More importantly I find it alienating – I feel like my experience of depression and medication is unimportant, irrelevant and possibly deluded.
Our experiences are almost nothing alike, even discounting gender, age, nationality and cultural background as reasons for the gulf between us, I find the ground shared is entirely based on feeling depressed and taking anti-depressants.

I didn’t want to take drugs. And I didn’t want to carry on heading towards suicide or alcoholic stupor. In the end I decided that being stoned, as sanctioned by the medical establishment, was better than the constant battle to complete each hour. I chose a different route to break out of the numb pattern. Did I surrender? Take the easy option? Am I even now ignoring my feelings and walking around numb to the world.
I don’t believe so, because unlike the author of that piece I knew what my baseline was; I have met unmedicated me and we loathe each other and I begun therapy, professional (counselling, cbt, dialectic) and personal (academic psychology, mindfulness & spiritual), without my chemical prop. I have crashed into my metaphorical icebergs and day-by-day me and my hairdrier slow them down. I believe, rightly or wrongly – for better or worse, that in taking the pills I have not accepted that a drugged me is a better me nor that I go into changes in myself blindly and unquestioningly.
I don’t feel that some level of appreciation of difference needs to be diametrically opposed to a sense of common humanity and I don’t feel that taking medication has taken away my sense of humanity (although to be fair I’m a long way from 10 years of pill-popping) – what it has reduced is the extremes of feeling every person’s pain was both my own , somehow my fault and simultaneously more worthy than mine could ever be, and also something that excluded me. Now when the news moves me to tears the grief is shared not symptomatic of my personal failure. I do not think I will ever move away from a sense that universal compassion is in itself arrogant but I am glad I feel empathy rather than inadequacy.
Medicated me has the space to, if not to accept the comfortable logical premisses of CBT then certainly to, accept that my personal assumptions of selfhood are not necessarily equivalent to the societal evaluations of the same – that is my judgments of myself don’t always match other people’s judgment of me – and to cope every day with the fact I cannot match the standards I wish to. Perhaps more importantly for the people I live with medicated me does not spiral into the suicidal abyss; it has been 3 months since I dragged a razor blade through my skin, I no longer curl in a darkened corner, rocking, able only to feel abstract fear and pain for hours at a time, feelings washing over me like a tidal wave of horror.
I think the point of the piece is that an unexamined life is unfulfilled and that relying on drugs takes you further from experience than you should ever need to be but the danger is that this message is obscured by a stance that forgets simply knowing your thoughts and feelings are not objective is not the same as being able to cope with them – now I am able to accept subjectivity and my inability to match abstract concepts as well as know those facts. I feel that the author loses sight of the darkness that millions of people need to step out of just to be able to start to experience life again in his quest to stop people reaching for a ‘quick fix’. Drugs aren’t the answer they are a tool and a subtle and unpredictable one at that. Use with caution.