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.

me with balloons

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.

sand

A poem I wrote four years ago today

Four years…

I deserve better blank

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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Making my way through the day…

20200219_100235_hdrMy apartment is quiet. Sun streams though the windows while I eat an orange left over from breakfast. The cats all look so very peaceful. Angel’s curled up to sleep while Lara grooms Blackie. Smudge, my more active kitty, is playing with a cat toy and Oreo’s sleeping on my mini trampoline. My apartment is the epitome of peacefulness. So why am I so anxious?

Anxiety, to me, is like an unwanted house guest that sneaks in and refuses to leave. It lays heavy in my stomach and reaches up to squeeze my lungs. Thank goodness for cats. Smudge just jumped into my arms and started purring and demanding head and neck scritches. I’m not back to normal but I am a lot calmer than I was when I started writing. And gently rocking never hurt anyone.

I am doing all the right things to keep anxiety at bay. My home is spotless. I try to cook the healthiest meals I can, depending on anxiety and depression levels. I go out for walks. I even found a walking buddy. But it still lingers.

I wish I had some amazing twist to add here, some cure-all for depression and anxiety, but I don’t. I take my medication faithfully, make sure I get out of the apartment on a regular basis, and still it lingers.

I guess, all I can say is to try and enjoy your life as best you can, despite your diagnosis. Enjoy the little things like the purring of kittens or the fresh new buds of spring. The big things are few and far between while the little things happen several times a day. And remember, on the worst days, that depth of anxiety and depression will not last. Be gentle with yourself and wait for it to pass, like diving under a wave. Let it flow over you and wash away. And with that, even though I’d much rather curl up in my swing chair, I’m going to track down a doctor then head out for a walk.

I hope you have a good day too!

Pas de deux…

These days I’m caught up in a dance I don’t want and don’t like. Both dance partners, anxiety and agoraphobia, hold me tight in their arms, making me feel like I’m being torn in two.

Last night I put on quiet music and turned the volume down until it was just background noise. I got my chamomile, rose, and white tea pillow spray and misted my pillow. The bathroom nightlight was on, which meant my room was dark but not too dark, and I read a chapter of a previously read book while ensconced in my swing chair.

The kittens were snuggled at the foot of my bed and stayed there while I made myself comfortable.  Then I closed my eyes and panic hit. It clenched my heart and sent my thoughts into an unreadable whirlwind. It was horrible and terrifying and I just wanted to die so it would stop. I was so overwhelmed that I couldn’t even cry.

I knew what I needed to do. I started with my breathing. This was remarkably similar to taking a toddler’s plastic bucket and scooping the water back to stop the tide. Then I grabbed my bottle of Ativan and took one tablet. The time it took between making that decision and getting the pill was probably only a matter of minutes. It felt like hours. The Ativan makes such a huge difference but it’s addictive so I try to keep from using it as much as possible.

I wonder sometimes if people think I’m faking because I manage to get out and do things but, at the same time, have my meds set for delivery (for example). They don’t realize that some days I can go out to a couple of nearby stores and other days I can’t go out at all. Plus, if I know I have to go out to the drug store every week to pick up my meds, I’m more likely to be anxious about it and unable to go out at all. And just because I can make it through a handful of stores doesn’t mean I’m fine. I’m just as likely to go home and make a beeline for my swing chair, unable to do anything else that night. Cereal for dinner and a 7:30pm bedtime. Even the cereal is a struggle.

I went out to Marshalls today and Superstore. I managed the buses and crowds and even made small talk with the cashiers. And I remembered almost everything I needed (except for the green onions). I’ve also eaten nothing but Kettle Brand Dill Pickle Chips and Bixby & Co Crunchy Peanut Butter and Maine Sea Salt Bites today. A chickpea salad with canned chickpeas and cherry tomatoes for lunch was too much. Dinner’s set to be microwave in a bag curry and rice. I’ve used all my energy today. It’s not just managing all the minutiae, it’s managing it all while controlling anxiety and agoraphobia. Meanwhile depression is still kicking around but anxiety’s been stomping it into the ground. It mostly manifests itself as inertia.

I need to get off the computer.

Fifteen minutes later…

I really need to get off this computer.

I believe this is called executive dysfunction and it shows up in my meal prep and, well, everything. Have you ever needed to use the toilet and had to give yourself a pep talk to go?

I’m simultaneously looking forward to my move and outright terrified. Right now, even on my worst days, I can say, “You’re going to Metro for milk. Can you pick me up a bag of English muffins too?” I’ll be alone when I move. Organizing my groceries around meal planning is great if I knew that I could make curry for dinner on Tuesday. That would be a definite maybe. So I wing it and sometimes even winging it is too hard. So I eat Froot Loops or potato chips and hope that tomorrow will be better.

It’s 4pm this afternoon and I’ve only got 4 thousand steps today. Maybe I’ll go downstairs to the gym after dinner. I’m hoping that extra walking will help keep me from another night like last night. Who knows?

Googles exercise and sleep quality

Apparently John Hopkins University knows and a half hour of exercise can be beneficial. So I’ll be on the treadmill tonight hoping to stave of an anxiety attack like last night. I see my psychiatrist on January 20th and hopefully he’ll have more advice for me too. Until then I’ll be doing whatever I can to keep myself calm and in control of my surroundings.

Feeling down…

Inside my stomach feels like a ball of angst… all hard edges and uncomfortable. Otherwise everything else feels flat and bland. I click on a video and am bored with it after two minutes. I didn’t nap today even though I was up for two hours last night. Or more accurately because I was up for two hours last night. I don’t want to have a repeat tonight. But I don’t feel tired, at least I think I don’t. Usually I’m exhausted by now; today I’m just here. And here is a long grey stretch of nothingness.

My psychiatrist was pleased at how my depression was being handled last month but not happy with my anxiety. So he’s been slowly weaning me off Effexor and switching me to Zoloft to deal with both of them. So far it hasn’t. My anxiety feels okay, unless it’s been subsumed by depression. My depression, on the other hand, feels horrible. I’m not at suicidal yet but I wouldn’t be surprised. I mean, how much hopeless can I take before I start looking for a way out?

I know depression isn’t a fun conversation topic but it is a very real one. More than 300 million people world wide struggle with it. A significant amount don’t survive. It’s important for people to know they aren’t alone. There are people like them. There is help. As for me, I’ll be calling my psychiatrist’s office tomorrow to try and get an emergency appointment because the 10th seems so far away.

gentle with yourself

A Hormonal Tilt a Whirl…

There are so many things that could be affecting my mood right now. The medication adjustments (albeit minor ones), the season’s change, “normal” hormonal fluctuations, and so on. What I do know is that my anxiety and depression are not playing together well. Or, more realistically, they’re playing together too well. Anxiety’s screaming, “OMG we’re all going to die!!!” and depression replies with, “Great idea. If we get some momentum going, we could jump the railing before cowardice steps in.”

I’m not going to jump. I’ve got too many friends and family who would miss me plus Blackie and Lara would never understand why I didn’t return. I couldn’t do that to them. People talk about cats being aloof, Blackie and Lara are anything but aloof. And they love me dearly.

I hate this feeling. Everything seems scary but I have no idea why and, at the same time, I don’t really care. Part of me is craving sleep while the rest is dreading it. Last night I drempt I was standing beside a river, watching body parts floating by. The only good thing my mind could come up with was at least they weren’t climbing out of the river after me. I don’t remember what else happened but I was up for an hour afterwards.

And I try to make bedtime comfortable. Calm pillow spray with chamomile, rose, and white tea. My big squishy stuffed carrot. Soothing bedtime music. And my heart still pounds.

It’s not much better when I’m awake. I struggle to get anywhere, breaking each trip into pieces and only focusing on one piece at a time. Sometimes that works, other times it doesn’t. Then I just make do without whatever I was going to get. Going with someone helps… except my someone is Colin which means a monologue on how the conservatives are better and how hard done by men are. I’m hoping this is a phase he’ll grow out of but am losing hope on that one.

And today is the 80th day until I move. It feels like it’s so far away but I have to give notice at the end of this month and then I’m into the final crunch. Another huge chunk of anxiety to deal with.

I’m struggling with posting this. Half of me says that no one wants to hear me whine while the other says there are people who need to know they’re not alone. I can deal with people thinking I’m boring. It’s the people who feel alone that matter to me.

For those of you who feel you’re alone and drowning in pain. There are people out there. They might be hard to find but they are there. You can do it! I believe in you!

keep fighting

I don’t know…

filtered-flowersI was walking through the field in front of the park I usually visit and I realized I absolutely did not want to be there. I wanted to be safe at home, curled up in my swing chair right now. Short of a teleportation device, that wasn’t happening. I managed to keep on walking.

Tears prickle my eyes for no reason multiple times a day and I keep hoping I won’t start sobbing, which would be embarrassing if I was out, and often causes a headache.

I don’t want to die. I don’t want to kill myself. And yet I have a completely detailed suicide plan. And Colin’s away and I got a sudden idea that I could implement it before he gets home. I won’t.

I ate a handful of crackers for lunch today and nothing at all yesterday because I’m not hungry. To be fair, I had packed an apple for lunch yesterday but there was an elderly man rummaging through the garbage and I figured he could use it more than me.

And I’m so very tired. All. The. Time. I wake up from a nap and feel like I should be sleeping again.

So much of my future is up in the air. I have a floor plan that likely looks like my unit but I have no idea if it’s accurate or not. I have a move in date but what if my building wants me out on the 31st? I’ve found several apartments for Colin and he’s turned them all down. I have no idea how much a moving van costs and am too scared to find out.

Will I make friends there? Will they be the sort of friend who hang out with you and do stuff together? Will they accept me for me? Autistic, asexual, panromantic, vegan, atheist. I don’t want to hear “I like you but…”

I have a psychiatrist appointment on Friday and I have a sinking feeling my answer to “And how’s Kathleen been?” will be “I don’t know”. But I really don’t know. And I’m going to take out the garbage and wash some dishes because leaving them as is will not help my mood. And hopefully my doctor will have a better idea to deal with this than I do.

glitter-in-my-hair

Me with glitter gel in my hair. Because depression’s on the inside, not on the outside

Life, death and music…

CN: frank discussion of suicide

So I sit here in my nightie. I didn’t have anywhere to go today so I stayed in it. It’s cosy at least.

I just got myself dinner, feeding the cats first because they’re important. I was going to make french fries and gravy but I couldn’t handle peeling and chopping for that long. Even thought it would only be about five minutes. So I toasted myself an english muffin and made a mug of hot chocolate. I make them so often I can do it on autopilot.

I washed the dishes yesterday before dinner and I presume the dish fairy arrived shortly after. All the dishes look like mine but there’s way more there than there should be for a day. The thought of washing them is overwhelming.

Depression is like wading through tar. It clings to you and pulls you down further and further. Every single step is the hardest and every conversation is a struggle. How am I doing? Fine is too much of a lie. I usually settle for “okay”. It’s enough to slide by without sounding like everything’s all right. Because it’s not.

So I browse on Facebook, looking at the message box and wishing someone would message me. I am always the first one to message, which makes me wonder if there’s something wrong with me. Everyone assures me there isn’t. Besides that, I have no idea what to say beyond hi.

I read an article in the Reader’s Digest a bit ago. The author had been suicidal and jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge. As soon as he let go, he knew it was a mistake. But what could he do at that point? Thankfully he survived. One out of four who managed that feat. Out of thousands who didn’t. And you know what? Every one of the survivors knew it was a mistake as they let go. I refuse to believe they were the only ones and it breaks my heart to know the thousands more were lost. There’s no second chance when you’re plummeting.

I also read a surprisingly graphic news story about a teenage boy who jumped from a four storey balcony. The surgeons discovered shattered bones and shredded organs. They had to stitch him back up and let him die. There was no way to save him. They couldn’t stitch together fragments. I’d wanted to donate my organs and gave no thought to what condition they’d be in after a fall. I figured I’d be just me, still intact only dead.

I’d planned on jumping off our seventh floor balcony (eight if you consider the slope to the basement). The only thing that stopped me was my fear that it wouldn’t be high enough. That I’d disable myself enough not to be able to try again. Thankfully my sister saw my rambling note on Facebook and drove me to the hospital and she and my mother took turns sitting with me while waiting for my turn with the psychiatrist.

Any time I start feeling suicidal in the least, I think of that first article and the four survivors. Some mistakes you can’t come back from and that’s one of them. Jeez, I waffle over which ice cream to buy at the grocery store. Deciding whether to die is so much more dire and the consequences spread devastation over such a wide range. That’s not a decision I should be making. Someday I will die but it won’t be today.

So here I sit weighted down by depression. Soon I’ll move my bones and wander over to my swing chair, where I’ll proceed to rock and listen to music videos.

And hopefully this bout of depression won’t last too long.

List of world wide suicide prevention lines