Fading memory…

I had a great introduction to my blog but I’ve forgotten it. Which has got to be the most unfunny joke ever but it’s also so very real. Sometimes I feel like my life is fraying. I’ll think something and then it’s gone. Or I’ll be in the middle of a thought and the beginning disappears, then the end is gone and I’m left wondering what happened.

Depression and anxiety are what happened. One thing I discovered is that permanent memory loss can be caused simply by having a major depressive episode. Depression and anxiety also cause memory loss simply because you can’t focus. If you can’t focus, you can’t remember what’s going on. And, of course, meds cause memory loss too.

Memory loss is so frustrating. I’ll have a conversation with my kids and I feel like I’m right there listening intently. It feels right. Then we get off the phone (or leave the room) and the conversation is gone, or most of it at least. I watch anime shows with Colin and forget the plot completely, making the next episode that much more interesting. And I’m routinely saying, “Wait! I had a thought! Let me see if I can get it back again.” Sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t. And we all get frustrated, the kids because “Mom’s not listening” and me because I was listening as hard as I could and everything disappeared anyway.

Then there’s the elephant in the room… dementia. When does this switch from depressive memory loss to dementia? I don’t do odd things like put my keys in the sugar bowl and my psychiatrist isn’t worried so I guess I should stop worrying too, although it not quite that easy.

Yesterday I lay down for a short nap. I’d just fallen asleep when my phone rang. It was my psychiatrist’s secretary wanting to know if I could come in for a cancellation appointment an hour after my nap ended. I’d have plenty of time to do both so I changed my calendar and lay down. I dozed for a bit when I woke then spent some time petting our oldest cat. That was when my notification went off saying my appointment was in 15 minutes. What appointment? I didn’t see my psychiatrist for half a week. Then the second notification buzzed and I remembered the call. I don’t think I’ve left the apartment that quickly ever. I was speed walking down the sidewalk, calling and calling his office. They called me back at the bus stop then assured me there was a second cancellation at 3:40pm and I could be booked into that one, which was a relief. But, it shows again how my memory’s shot. I put everything in my phone calendar lately and check it several times a day. I can’t just wing it, if I don’t write it down, it’s gone.

My doctor’s slowly weaning me off clonazepam to see if my memory improves and my brain fog lessens. I’ve been eating well and going for regular walks in the hopes of improving my brain too. Now to see if my memory improves.

Lara sleeping like a people

If having cats improved memory, I’d be a mental wizard

Two steps away from reality…

I had a fairly busy morning yesterday. Colin and I hurried through a downpour, sans umbrellas, to catch our first bus. I spent that entire trip checking the bus app to see how long we had until the connecting bus and silently cursing whenever we stopped. By the time we got off our second bus the rain had stopped. We went to meet my Mom and walked to the restaurant for lunch… and it was closed even though their site said it was open. So onward to our favourite Indian restaurant where I had our worst food from there ever (and they’re usually amazing). I tried something new, which turned out to be tasteless, and our onion bhaji appeared to be onionless. From there we went to the grocery store, which was necessary but was one stop too many for me.

I went to pick up one last item then looked around in bewilderment. This is one of our regular grocery stores, we visit it about twice a month. I felt like I slipped though some sort of mirror. Everything was sort of recognizable but at the same time not. The only way I could describe it was by being two steps away from reality. I tightly gripped the shopping cart handle as if I’d fly away if I let go and slowly made my way to the front of the store, which was a zoo. Thankfully my Mom gave me her car keys so I could sit in quiet. There were police dogs by the exit, a promotion for their calendar, and I couldn’t even stop to pet them, that’s how badly I needed to leave. Thankfully I was okay soon after I got home. I looked it up and it’s called dissociation; just something else to tell my psychiatrist.

There’s been way too much happening. So far my occupancy date is set for January 1st but they have staggered move in dates. I can only hope I’m before January first and not after. Then there’s Colin and his move. He’s been having long meetings with one agency and has another meeting tomorrow that might be talking about a potential place. They’re even talking about a site in Toronto, which would make it hard for family to visit. But it’s urgent and any apartment is better than none. And, finally, there’s Blackie. She’s doing a lot better now with antibiotics and is absolutely ravenous, even with her sore, rotting teeth and mouth ulcers. We haven’t been able to see into her mouth so it was an unpleasant surprise to see her back teeth. I’m feeding her whenever she begs because she was starving and needs the calories. So far she’s had three dinners tonight. I need to drop some paperwork off at the vet clinic on Wednesday for a possible subsidy for her bloodwork and xrays. Then submit them again for dental surgery. But even there there’s a lot of uncertainty.  What if the bloodwork turns up something worse? I can’t picture my home without her.

And then there’s the whole move. I’ve bought beautiful things for my new place but it’s not going to be here. I’ll have a brief panic, like an elevator dropping a bit too fast for a few seconds and then the OMG moment hits. I’m not going to have my room there. Not with my teal and glitter walls. It’s going to be different. Everything’s going to be different. And I’m going to be alone in all that difference. Completely and utterly alone. Then I practice my breathing until I’m not going to pass out from hyperventilating and try to get on with my day.

And my world keeps spinning like a whirligig and I just keep hoping that my psychiatrist is right and this move will be a big help for me. Only 65 days to go.

 

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

Depression resurfaces…

I woke up to a room filled with sunshine and a sleepy cat purring by my side. My favourite breakfast food, hot chocolate and an english muffin, were waiting for me to prepare them and I bought myself a pomegranate as a special treat.

Soon the cats started pleading for their wet cat food then, as I rolled out of bed, a thought came unbidden.

“Oh no, not this again!”

The weight of all those hours and minutes ahead pressed down hard. It was overwhelming enough to take my breath away. Meanwhile there’s nothing stressful or even annoying about today. It was my body’s automatic reaction to simply being alive.

I have so much to live for. My adult children, a happy, adorable grandson, my parents, my cats. I’ve got a girlfriend who’s nice and doesn’t live too far away… who I’m seeing next week. Friends I see every week and more friends I chat with on messenger every day. I have an apartment I love and activities I truly enjoy. I have an amazing trip in a month and a half, where I’ll be surrounded by family. It’s a good life.

This depression didn’t spring out of nowhere. I’ve been struggling for several weeks to keep up with the dishes, wash my clothes, and make healthy meals. I have to start cooking by 4pm, otherwise I simply won’t have the energy to cook. I’m exhausted all day and need a nap in order to function… then wake up fully after using the toilet at night and need to settle myself all over again. I can’t understand how, at 2pm, I can sleep with my lights on and my comforter crumpled up under my right hip while at 2am, I can’t sleep because there’s a wrinkle near my big toe.

Luckily, this time, I haven’t reached the point of suicidal ideation. The cynical part of me whispers “yet”. I really don’t want to go to the hospital. It’s not bad, just boring as hell, which is okay for the first couple of days but gets more frustrating as time goes on. I can walk around the hallway and get my 10,000 steps (which I did last time), colour pages in the cafeteria, and chat with the other people. But there’s a lot of time and a limited number of activities to fill it with. I’d rather be home with my swing chair to calm me down, friends to distract me, cats to soothe me, and family to love me. Plus the freedom to walk in nature instead of around a sterile hall.

This post took me way longer to write than I expected. I started at breakfast time and have just finished lunch. And I keep on rocking in my chair and trying to breathe normally. Now I’m going to take a nap to calm me down and settle myself and hopefully the rest of the day will be better.

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Me at Cedar Valley Park

Where are the stars?

picture 2First came Kate Spade. I knew about her vaguely  because she brought out a purse shaped piggy bank titled “Kate saved” and I’d debated on buying it for Kait for her birthday. My Mom pointed out it was a play on words with the designer’s name, which I’d never heard before. I didn’t hear about her again until I found out she’d strangled herself to death with her red scarf.

Then came Anthony Bourdain. I don’t even know anything about him, just that he was 61 years old and had been fighting depression and substance abuse.

And then came the Facebook posts saying that he didn’t die too soon. He’d struggled for years and had lived a lifetime. That he’d had 30 more years than someone who’d died at thirty-one and the poster would have given anything for those thirty extra years.

I’m a hell of a lot closer to 61 than I am 30 and I can tell you right now that it isn’t enough. I want the chance to see my grandchild grow up. I want to see him finish high school, to fall in love. He’d only be 13 if I died then.

And I sit here in the sunshine and wonder where’s the light. It’s supposedly darkest before the dawn but I’m staring into the east and there’s no sun rising there.

They say that in the darkness there’s stars but the depths are inky black and no pinpricks of light are shining back at me.

I told my psychiatrist that those two were rich, with all the amenities that affords. The best therapists. The best counselling. I’m, well, not rich. I worry about falling through the cracks to land seven stories below. I guess technically eight because there’s a slope under my apartment.

My psychiatrist is worried about me.

When is going to the hospital the best choice to make and when is it running away from my problems? I’m already avoiding both balconies. My mind spools like an old film projector, showing reel after reel of me jumping. But, at the same time, I need to get the letters from our office for Revenue Canada. I need to deliver my new prescription to the pharmacy. And my cats would miss me.

And I look to the sky and hope, in vain, to see the stars.

hardest thing

Withdrawal…

On April 10th, I stood on my scale and said, “Oh hell no!”

I had gained a lot of weight in 2016/17, going from the low 170’s to 225lbs. That fall I lost most of it, ending in the high 180’s. And then winter came. I didn’t want to go outside and all I wanted was carbs. Soon I was back at 202lbs.

busy dayI had 14 pounds to lose, it was definitely doable. Except, instead of losing, I’ve gained two pounds in the past month and a half(ish). That’s with walking at least 10 thousand steps a day and watching what I eat.

So I looked elsewhere, right at the last medication I started taking. Mirtazapine. And discovered it’s secondary use was as a weight gain drug. Trying to diet on this drug was similar to trying to dive while wearing water wings. You can try as hard as you want, you’re only going to bob back to the surface.

I saw my psychiatrist 10 days ago and he cut me down to a half dose then told me to stop taking them a week later. My last dose was on the 24th.

Since then I’ve been feeling worse than I have since 2016. The suicidal thoughts and ideation are back, although thankfully not with intent. I have to drag myself out to go for my walk and feel miserable for most of it. My anxiety has skyrocketed and I’m getting more panic attacks. Then I looked at the withdrawal symptoms and, what do you know, those are all side effects from withdrawal. Apparently the withdrawal is supposed to be slow and gradual, not a week. A gentle tapering of 10% at a time.

peonies.jpgMeanwhile I’m trying, I’m really trying. I went out for a family lunch today and a walk in the local botanical gardens. I’m going out for dinner tonight with our local UU congregation. There’s be line dancing, which I can tolerate, and likely country music, which I can’t. Please send ear plugs and Advil.

I’m still attending all three of my groups, although they come to an end in the next couple of weeks. And I’ll be helping Kait move.

And in the meantime I’m dealing with thoughts of just jumping off the balcony right now! How I feel is going to be forever. It doesn’t matter how many pictures I take or sunsets I see, my life will continue to feel horrible.

I tell myself that’s not true then I grit my teeth, post something positive on Facebook, and head out for a walk.

Playing depression limbo…

I got my glass measuring cup from the cupboard and started carefully pouring milk. It took me a couple of seconds to realize it was cow’s milk. I’ve been vegan for five years. No harm done though. Oreo was right by my feet so I pulled out a ramekin and gave him the milk before carefully rinsing the cup. I put the milk away and got out a carton of cashew milk and set it on the counter then got a carton of cashew milk and stared in bewilderment.

I laughed about my forgetfulness and made a humorous post on Facebook. Then it came time to make dinner the following evening and I just did not have the energy to make anything. The simplest meals seemed much too hard. So I had an english muffin with peanut butter and a mug of hot chocolate, my usual breakfast and standard depression dinner.

Last night I had a dream that I was an inpatient in the psychiatric ward again. I can remember thinking “how did I get here?” and remember the frustration of being back yet again.

This morning I finally recognized the depression clinging to me like tar. It’s heavy and weighs down everything I do, making each task take twice as long. I tried to carefully plan my breakfast but still ended up with two hot chocolate mugs waiting on the counter because I’d completely forgotten I’d got one out already. Depression fucks with your memory.

20180505_101511.jpgI know life isn’t fair but that was my first thought anyhow. I’m on twelve pills a day (seven prescriptions) and have been trying so hard. The weather’s getting nicer, the sun’s shining, and the buds are almost exploding from where they’ve been hiding all winter. Every day brings a bit more green… a bit more colour. I should be happy. I should be eagerly anticipating Kait and Josh’s move to their first apartment together. I should be eagerly anticipating their first child and my first grandchild. I should be thrilled to pieces about Colin’s acceptance into college prep classes. And I am… underneath all that tar. So far anhedonia hasn’t reared it’s ugly head. I’m still scrapbooking, still going to karaoke, still visiting family.

So I’m going to dye my hair teal and take the bus to my parents’ house this afternoon, hoping I can fake it well enough to be good company. And I’ll just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Depression has pulled out the limbo game of “how low can you go?” but I’m not interesting in playing that. Hopefully, somehow I can work past it. Hopefully I’ve got enough supports in place to work through and past this depressive state.