Is it a good fit?

Back in June I asked my psychiatrist if I could have a referral to a therapist and he immediately obliged. Thankfully the therapist took on my case and we had our first phone appointment in early July, a case history. He set the next appointment for exactly a month away and then I was left hanging with nothing to work on.

The month went by and I finally had my next appointment. The therapist was all set to work on my agoraphobia and anxiety until I told him that I’d come to the realization that I hate myself and he focused on that instead. I figured he’d want to try and figure out where the hatred was coming from and work on getting me to think more positively about myself. But no. Instead he wants me to make a whole new self, one that I’ll like, built on the carcass of the old me. I’m still not wrapping my head around this.

He continued on by telling me I should have no close friends at all, that ideally I should aim for 14 or 15 superficial friends. That people prefer pleasure and push away pain and, when you have close friends you talk about deep subjects that can make people uncomfortable… which makes them push you away. But with superficial friends you only talk about light things, like the weather, so the topic never gets deep or painful.

My whole being shudders away from this. I don’t mention it often but I’m demi romantic, closer to aromantic than asexual. I crave deep friendships and I can’t have a romantic relationship without having a deep relationship first. No deep friendships means no relationships ever.

And then he gave me an appointment two months away with nothing to work on except to write and make superficial friends. What am I supposed to do? Chat up the cashier? So I’ve got until the end of September to figure out what to say to him. Hopefully we can figure something out that will work better for me.

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My cat Smudge being cute and nibbling on my sunflowers

Just what I needed… another diagnosis…

me1-filteredI talked to my psychiatrist this week and he agrees with my therapist that I have ADD. This is something I’ve wondered for a while, something I brought up with my family doctor well over a decade ago, but nothing was ever done about it. Now something has. I’ve been placed on Adderall with an increase next week and it’s making a world of difference. Suddenly I can organize. My thoughts don’t fly around like frightened birds. And it’s helping my depression too, apparently it can do that… work alongside antidepressants to make things better.

That being said, I have so many diagnoses already. I’ve been diagnosed with:

major depressive disorder
severe anxiety
agoraphobia
autism
and now ADD

The list seems to just keep growing. The good news is my psychiatrist has emphatically said I don’t have a personality disorder which scratches sociopath, borderline personality disorder, and narcissist personality disorder off the list entirely. And hopefully I won’t gain any more.

I find some people get upset about labels, even if they’re on someone else. I, for one, find them a help. They help explain some of the quirks I’m dealing with and lead me to people who are dealing with similar quirks. Sometimes they offer solutions for the more annoying ones.

I didn’t really need another label but at least it was one I was already expecting. And that helps.

A tiny bit of an update…

I try to write at least once a week but just haven’t been up to it lately, this along with everything else. I figured I’d pop in for a quick update. I’m still here and still depressed. Sometimes I wonder if I irritate people by mentioning it over and over, I’ve been almost constantly depressed for four years now. But, honestly, it’s worse on this side.

I had my psychiatrist’s appointment today and it went well. He brought up having me admitted but I didn’t want to go. Going meant being away from the cats and my home. No Doctor Who. No listening to music. I’m second and third guessing myself now but it’s done and I’m in my pjs. I don’t particularly feel like doing myself in at the moment. I’m currently seeing (by phone) my psychiatrist every two weeks and my Canadian Mental Health Care workers twice a day (once a day on weekends). Sometimes I think it’s overkill then sometimes I start making plans. I’ve got my cats and my family though, I can’t leave them.

Is this post long enough? It’ll have to be long enough because I can’t write more. I’ll add a photo too. Oh and my psychiatrist is putting me on Adderall because my memory sucks and I’ve got the attention span of a squirrel on crack. Picture. Must add picture.

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Hopefully me once the Adderall starts working

That dark little rain cloud…

That cloud just keeps hovering overhead no matter what’s done to try and stop it. Last month my psychiatrist swapped most of my medications for new meds in an attempt to make an improvement. I’m now on ten medications (18 pills) a day. My parents worry about me. They say I look drugged, that my pupils are small. That I zone out constantly. From my side I feel exhausted. It’s less zoning out and more nodding off.

I could deal with the side effects if the medications were working but they aren’t. I had another panic attack last night as I climbed into bed. It came out of nowhere, knocking the air out of me, making me feel like I couldn’t breathe. My chest hurt. What if something was seriously wrong? What if I was having a heart attack? I knew I couldn’t stay in bed at that point. I downed a 1mg of Ativan and curled up in my swing chair. No screens, just quiet and a chance to work on my breathing. And it slowly helped. But it wasn’t a one off.

Going out on my own makes me feel naked and exposed. I try different coping strategies but nothing beats the relief of getting back in my door. I’m better out with people but I can’t handle too many activities or stores. Two or three is the most for me. Even writing about going outside is making me nervous and I’m sitting safely in my own bedroom with the front door locked. I’m not going anywhere and yet that fear remains.

And the depression. My whole body feels leaden while everything takes more energy… more effort. Even getting up from the table requires thought and effort. My thoughts are heavy and run slowly. I make more mistakes, typing the wrong letters, using the wrong words. It all seems pointless… futile. What difference is my life going to make anyway? I’ve been trying the whole “fake it ’til you make it” idea but so far it’s not working. And then comes the fear of what if nothing works and I just keep feeling like this forever? I don’t know what I’d do if that were the case. And, for total irony, I got this with my dinner tonight…

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Something has to change…

20200510_075631_hdrPicture it.

It’s night and you’re alone at home. You’ve just finished watching a really good suspense movie. Suddenly the floor creaks in another room and you hear the distinct sound of a door. There’s no one there. Who (or what) could it be? That level of panic is how I feel every single day. I took 1mg of Lorazepam almost an hour ago and I might as well have taken a Skittle judging by the reaction.

My psychiatrist recommended a website to me in order to help manage my anxiety and depression. The site has a questionnaire to gauge what level of help you need. I showed up as having severe anxiety and severe depression. Basically, despite all my medications… all the walks… all the breathing exercises… the groups and listening to music, nothing’s changed in four years. Well other than I’m really not suicidal anymore… at least not usually.

It’s a daily struggle to do my chores. I keep reminding myself that I won’t want to do double the chores tomorrow and that works. It also helps that my apartment’s so small and it’s just the cats and I. Having a messy apartment would make me feel worse, I just wish having a clean apartment would make me feel better.

My psychiatrist is changing all my medications on me. Increasing my clonazepam because there are so many days I’m literally scared to walk out the front door. Swapping my current antidepressants for new ones. I start them on Wednesday and think the following two weeks are going to be one hell of a ride. Hopefully I’ll get used to the new meds and doses soon. I’ll just need to remember I’m needed, especially by my cats. And that jumping from the second floor is pretty much pointless.

I’m not supposed to but I’m going to take a nap and see if that resets my anxiety and then I’ll watch another episode of Doctor Who. Meanwhile I rock constantly and try my hardest to breathe rhythmically. And I wait for Wednesday. And I wait for change.

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A poem I wrote four years ago today

Slogging through solitude…

Can Covid-19 pack it’s bags and go home now? I’ve whizzed through the whole series of Good Omens (and could really use a second season). Now I’ve started on the book. Colin’s lent me his DVD collection of Doctor Who and I’m up to The Library episode now. I’ll be sad when the 10th Doctor is gone. I like the 11th Doctor but the 10th holds a special place in my heart (up in the right ventricle). I’m playing Scrabble on Facebook and a quiz game. I’m also playing a word connect game on my phone. I go for several walks each week and bounce on my mini trampoline for 20 minutes at a time. Plus phone calls to friends and family. Rinse and repeat. It’s a lot but I want to do something new. I want to window shop… go on walks with my Mom… sing karaoke with my friends… have lunch in a little restaurant and try something new. I want Sunday family dinners. I want to get my eyes examined and go back to the gym again.

I’ve made this apartment a home with pictures, word art, and plenty of cats but sometimes it feels more like a cage. There’s so much I want to do. Meanwhile a microscopic virus is hemming us all in. So I wear a strawberry covered cloth mask and slap on hand sanitizer which shows me where every cut is. I follow taped arrows down store aisles and step on the grass to let strangers by on the sidewalk. I talk to my psychiatrist and case manager by phone instead of in person and try to ignore the fact that two buses will get me to my parents’ house. I can’t take those two buses there because social distancing.

And I practice my breathing and listen to music and watch hypnotic animations and go on websites with information that’s supposed to help anxiety and depression and I take my medication. And hopefully someday this will be over. I’m tired of being alone.

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Me and my strawberry mask

Four years…

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My eyes are so swollen from crying for two days

CN: frank discussion of suicidal thoughts

My heart felt like it had stopped. I couldn’t breathe. This wasn’t happening. Lenny had broken up with me and I felt like I’d lost the last support I had. I’d been plummeting into depression for months; all that kept me going was the promise of moving to England and making a fresh start with Lenny. It was going to be my biggest adventure and then it was gone with no way of getting it back.

Four years ago today, the day after my break up, I sat down at my computer desk and wrote a suicide note. I didn’t bill it as such, in fact I lied and said I had no plans of killing myself. That wasn’t true. I had a plan and now I had my note. I also had the courage or desperation to climb over the railing and jump. The only thing holding me back was the fear it wasn’t high enough. What if I didn’t die? What if I ended up as a quadriplegic, unable to try again. Meanwhile I pictured jumping over and over; the flight, the wind, and then nothing. I didn’t think of the people I’d leave behind except fleetingly, assuming they’d quickly get over me. Goodness knows I wasn’t worth caring about.

Then my sister called and asked if she could take me to the hospital. It wasn’t like I had anything pressing to do other than dying so I told her I would. She coached me while in the car to exaggerate a little so they’d take me seriously. I didn’t think that would be an issue.

Going to the hospital for mental health issues takes so long. There’s the initial waiting room and then triage and then the nurses station and then the waiting room. Then, after an hour or so, there’s a trip to the back part of the ER and a meeting with a doctor. Then it’s back to the waiting room for another hour or two… or three before finally meeting the psychiatrist. It’s almost a day long event; it’s worth packing snacks and a book (if you can concentrate).

Finally we sat in a quiet room with a couch, a couple of chairs, and dim lamps. I sat on the couch silently crying while my Mom perched uncomfortably on a chair. My sister had long since needed to go home to get her kids from school. The psychiatrist explained that I could be admitted but, if I was serious about suicide I could always find a way. There was no guarantee I’d be safe. Or I could go home with my Mom. I ended up staying almost two weeks with my parents before going home again and, over the course of the next few years, got admitted around four times. I had my first admission that June and got blocked by Lenny the morning after I got home. I haven’t heard from him since. I have no idea how he’s doing but I wish him well. He was struggling with his own demons.

My life has changed so much since then. I’m no longer able to work so groups took over as a way to interact with people (at least until covid-19 struck). I’m on a handful of meds a day, carefully balanced to keep me balanced. I adopted two kittens to go with the three senior cats I already had and they keep me busy and loved. No matter what’s going on in the world, they need me and that matters. I got involved with the Canadian Mental Health Association and I got a subsidized apartment. This is the first time I’ve lived on my own and the first time I’ve lived outside of Oshawa and Whitby (two cities just outside Toronto).

If you are suicidal I want you to know that you have value and meaning. You are worthwhile no matter how you feel (or how you’ve been made to feel). And life changes. What’s happening now is no indication of what your life is going to be like in a year or four. My resources page has a bunch of phone numbers and websites for help and I can be reached on my blog’s Facebook page or email address (both are on my about page). You are not alone.

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Dear Dr. K

I’m writing because it’s so much easier than talking. If I leave this to talking I’ll be so anxious I lose half of what I planned on saying and will have misworded another quarter. Chances are you’re too busy to read this on your own time but I’ll have it up on my phone at the next appointment.

Zoloft sounded like a great idea and it’s dropped my anxiety a bit but it’s also doing almost nothing for my depression. I’m back to plotting out my death and coming up with reasons for why none of them would work, mostly because it would be unfair for the person who finds me (or in the case of the train, the person who hit me). And then it struck me. What would happen to my cats? I love them dearly and want them to have the best lives possible but none are kittens. Even the ones I call kittens are almost four years old and the rest are seniors. Angel needs a step up to climb onto my bed, where she spends most of her time sleeping. And I just watched Blackie slowly settle herself on the floor, gently easing each joint down. My family won’t take them which means they’d end up languishing for months in a shelter, if not years. So suicide is out of the question.

I feel like I’m hollow inside and that hollowness is filled with pain, like I’m a person suit filled with broken glass. I’m counting down the days until I die… until the pain goes away. Wishing for death and then, once again I think of my cats and gingerly back away from those thoughts.

I planned on going to the gym today. It would have been my third day in a row. I took a nap instead. I crave sleep like a person with a heroin addict craves their next hit. I’m never sure if I want to sleep because it gets me out of life for one more hour or if it’s because I’m really freaking tired. Maybe it’s both.

I have to force myself to finish my food lately and, even then I end up throwing things away… like half an apple. Ironically I’m not losing any weight. My scale and I currently have a hate-hate relationship.

Meanwhile I’m doing everything I possibly can. My home is spotless. The dishes are washed, laundry done, bed made, kitty litter scooped, and garbages emptied. I’ve been going to the gym regularly although I just started. I made an attempt to join a group. Sadly it was really triggering and I had to leave but CMHA is setting up groups for this building, so I’ll be in a group soon. I’m listening to music daily and will be singing karaoke with friends in two more weeks. And still I find myself wishing I would just die. I don’t know what else I can do to make things better.

And I help my 14 year old cat onto my bed and give her forehead scritches then head into the living room to listen to music. Hopefully you’ll have some ideas for what to do because I’m lost.

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Me snuggling Smudge on my swing chair. You can’t see it but she’s drooling with happiness

Invisibly disabled…

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Me at the mall yesterday

I was talking to a relative when she said, “I don’t understand how you’re so disabled you can’t work but you can go to the mall and Canada’s Wonderland (amusement park). You can do things that are fun but not when it’s work…” She changed the topic right after that so I didn’t have a rebuttal but her comment made me think.

The first thing she didn’t realize is I always have a plan. When I shop at the mall I know which stores I’m going to and where they are. I select three or four maximum. I shop in the morning and on a weekday so it’s quieter. And I leave when I get overwhelmed. I was at the mall yesterday and I left a half hour early for the bus. We’d been in the food court and the noise was too much. Could you imagine a job letting me sort through my duties and pick which ones I did, choosing the time I worked for quietness, and letting me leave after a couple of hours when I got overwhelmed? Oh and I probably wouldn’t make it to work the following day as I’d need a day to recuperate.

Canada’s Wonderland is more tricky but I still work out plans. The first thing I get is a disability pass so I don’t have to wait in line. I also scout out a quiet patch of lawn so that if I get too overwhelmed I can find an empty corner there and rest. I can assure you that spot gets used. And I only go once a year, if that. Of course the next day or two is spent recovering.

Everything I do is planned out in advance, from buying groceries to making dinner. I have to time things so I don’t get overwhelmed. Overwhelmed with dinner tends to mean I need to microwave a frozen dinner because I waited too long to start cooking. Overwhelmed at the store means a lot of patience with myself and several skipped products when I just can’t stand it anymore and cannot make it one more aisle. Along with lots of reminders that I will be home soon.

I feel badly sometimes because I get my medication delivered instead of going to pick it up, especially since I go past the drug store to get to my grocery store and the gym. The thing is, it’s because I have to get the medicine and there’s a time limit. The pressure of both those things mounts with every day, ironically causing me to be unable to go there. Neither the gym or the grocery store have that pressure. If I don’t go today, I can go tomorrow or the day after. Which makes it a lot easier.

All these steps and routines I make are invisible to the people around me. All they see is me being able to handle activities like two hour long groups and fun trips. They don’t notice the spaces between those activities or how short the time is. Seriously, where would I find a job that lets me work up to two hours a day for one or two days a week?

If I was missing a leg, people would see that and know I was disabled. Instead I’m missing crucial chemicals in my brain. No one can see those. I just wish people would look deeper and try to understand instead of simply assuming. I’m more than willing to explain if people give me a try.

Moving with brain fog…

This is not the first time I’ve moved or even the second. I used to have it down pat. I’d pack like with like, starting with infrequently used items, then moving on to the things more commonly used. Food gets packed last.

I honestly thought I was following the same rules as every other time. Box after box piled up in my room and I remained confident that when the movers showed up on the 5th, I would be totally ready.

My first day here found me panicking at lunch time. I wanted to make a bowl of soup and had finally unearthed the pot but couldn’t find the can opener. Was it in a box still? Did I leave it behind in Oshawa? I called Colin and, sure enough, I had left it there. I knocked on the door across the hall and thankfully the neighbour had already unpacked his can opener and was willing to lend it to me.

I went to bed that night and suddenly realized I had left all my corningware in the shelves above the fridge at the old place. No problem. I was going to Oshawa the next day anyway and sleeping over at a friends’ apartment. I’d take my bundle buggy and put the corningware on the bottom and my clothes and pillow on the top. Except by the time I found everything, my buggy was full to the brim and my sleepover stuff was in two garbage bags. Luckily my Mom drove me home the next day because there was no way I could carry everything.

Colin called me this morning to inform me I left the blade of my blender back at the apartment. The freaking blade! I bought that blender two years ago when I came into some unexpected money. The blender was $200! So I’m going back tomorrow to do a bit more painting and to collect yet more stuff.

I’m making curry for dinner tonight. The recipe calls for white wine vinegar which, whoops is also in Oshawa, and it’s served over rice. I decided to skip the vinegar but the rice was needed. So I went to the next door neighbour this time instead of across the hall and thankfully he had rice.

When I’m in Oshawa tomorrow I need to remember theĀ  blender blade and the handful of groceries I bought last time I was there. Yep, I forgot them too.

I am so glad that Colin’s moving out after me because I would have lost so much… so many things I’d either forgotten about entirely or thought I’d already packed.

This place has senior subsidies, hopefully I’ll never have to move again. I don’t think my nerves could handle it!

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My curry tonight, sans white wine vinegar but plus the borrowed rice