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…

20200604_184921-01

 

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

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!

Eeekkkk….

20200125_185107-02There’s ten more days until I move. Ten measly days. I’ve got a wall of boxes in my bedroom and so much more to do.

Colin got told he had to clean up all his belongings before the agency who’s helping him will help him pack and we’re still waiting to hear about a place for him. He has a packing appointment on Tuesday and I’m crossing everything I own that he has a place. He doesn’t have to be out of here until the 29th but I’d much rather him out as soon as possible.

The cats see this as an amazing adventure. They rip the tape off boxes and dive inside and, mostly Smudge, climb to the top like they’re scaling Mount Everest. It’s going to be a huge shock for them when the boxes are all flattened and taken away.

My psychiatrist is worried about my anxiety, visibly worried. Worried enough that he’s stopped tapering me off Effexor and cut it out entirely so he can put me on Zoloft right away. I wake up multiple times a night and can’t sleep because I’m so anxious then I’m anxious all day. Hopefully the move will help. That phrase has become a mantra. Hopefully the move…

And here I sit, rocking every time I stop writing. I think I’ll put that pent up energy to good use and do some more packing. And tomorrow I’m into the single digits.

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.

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

October musings…

Yesterday was weird… just weird enough to keep me off kilter. First came the cancellation of my Nordic Pole walking class, five minutes before I had to leave. Then I got a call during the walk to my Social Recreation group from my psychiatrist’s secretary. The doctor was going to be on-call the day of my next appointment, could I switch to having an appointment at 4pm that day? Sure, that was fine.

The group went well then I got to the psychiatrist’s office and he asked me if I’d done the blood work for my lithium levels. I hadn’t because my lithium and clonazepam stopped coming last week, the day before I was going in for the blood work. I’d called the drug store and they told me they’d been faxing my prescription to the office and hadn’t got a reply. The psychiatrist’s receptionist said nothing had arrived and to get them to send it again. The doctor was furious. He checked his faxes every single day, several times a day, and nothing had come in for me.

That was when Colin called to say my IUD had arrived but my blister pack of meds hadn’t. I was now completely out of medication with no warning. The psychiatrist immediately called the drug store who, as far as I could tell, didn’t have much to say. He then wrote me a prescription with 30 refills, which he said should last me a while.

I got home and checked the mail. Colin’s disability pay stub arrived but mine hadn’t. Of course my mind went to the worst case scenario. What if I’d been kicked off disability with no warning whatsoever? Never mind that I’d been assured by my case manager that never happens. But what if it did? It was too late to call the office, I just had to wait until morning and see if the money got deposited into my account.

Of  course we had to drop off the prescriptions at the drug store, which is when I was informed that I hadn’t run out of the rest of my pills, they were merely on hold while I was in the hospital. Umm… what? There was a bit of confusion but they finally understood that I hadn’t been in the hospital at all and the hold got removed from my file. Thankfully the pharmacist was willing to make a new blister pack for me although it would take two hours. We wandered around stores for as long as we could and had just got home when I got the call to get my blister pack. Luckily that went smoothly and I was soon back home and ready for bed.

I woke up this morning and my disability hadn’t been cancelled (phew). I chatted with Kait for a while, got Colin up, then Colin and I headed out for a big shopping trip. We were aiming for over $200 in groceries so Colin could get a gift pack of Knorr products. We got $300 of groceries instead, which was super fun for Colin to pull home (not). He was thrilled though because he earned 6,000 PC points ($6) toward free groceries.

Colin walking the wagon home

It might not look like much but there’s a huge bag of kitty litter, a 48 pack of canned cat food, and a big bag of cat food. Plus all our food in various places including in two baskets.

I got the groceries stuffed away then went back out for our bus passes. Thankfully a friend told me they were still accepting October’s disability stubs so I was able to get mine too. Darn mail strike!

Two young men, college students, got on the bus home right after me and sat across from me. They didn’t go far and, as they left, I noticed one of them had lost his bus pass/student card. The driver stopped when I asked and, I asked if he’d wait for me while I gave the young man his pass back. The driver informed me that, no, he wouldn’t wait. He was on a schedule. Which meant I’d have to wait another half hour for the next bus if I got off. So I settled for leaning out the door and yelling at the students while waving the pass. They ran over to get it while the driver grumbled that he guessed he had to wait after all. Yeah, and I guess he’d never had to retrieve something from the bus depot on the other side of town, especially something as necessary as a bus pass. The student was grateful at least and I was glad I noticed it in time for him to get it back.

And now it’s time to snuggle up in bed. Tomorrow’s a new day and a new month and another fresh start.

born to be awesome

Two years…

I deserve better blankTwo years ago I cried until I thought I could cry no more and still the tears kept coming. I cried until my eyes swelled shut and my head ached. I felt like my entire world had fallen in on me and there was nothing left but ruins. Like there was only one option left and that was to jump off my 7th storey balcony to the unforgiving pavement below. All that stopped me was the concern that it might not be high enough. What would happen if I ended up paralyzed? I wouldn’t be able to try again.

Luckily for me I’m a writer. I write about everything and this was no exception. I got on Facebook and a veritable flood of words was released. I lied and said I wasn’t planning to kill myself. Even so, what I said was worrying enough that my sister Jen called then drove me down to the hospital. My Mom traded off with her when Jen had to pick up her kids. It takes a long time to be seen for mental health issues but they do keep close track of you.

In some ways that day feels like the beginning of a whole different life but it wasn’t. I’d been struggling with my mental health for at least a year. My family doctor started me on Effexor the spring of 2015 and prescribed Ativan for my rare panic attacks. It was getting harder and harder to stay at work. Some days I’d grip the sides of the cash register or my arms in an attempt not to run screaming out the door. I had always been the fun loving person. I cracked jokes, sang along with the radio, hugged people who liked hugging, and joked with the regular customers. My manager joked that Happy was my theme song. All that slowly drained away as my focus turned inward, a silent struggle to keep running my life.

20180418_101120.jpgIt’s been two long years but I’m slowly rebuilding my life. I’m printing out my scrapbooking pages and am finally up to mid 2017. I’m starting to read again and am thinking, once again, about my novel. I’ve joined three groups and enjoy every one of them. I visit my family every week and try to get out once a month for karaoke (yes, I can sing LOL). It’s not the same life I had before. My attention span is negligible. I find two hour classes to be just long enough. Any more would be overwhelming. But I’m surrounded by friends and family. Life is good.

Am I back to normal? No. I’m currently taking twelve pills in order to function and still struggle with anxiety. Am I happy? Yes. And I think that’s the most important answer of them all.

building your life