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

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

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

Letting go of the past…

Head’s up: My ex and I have multiple friends together. I don’t care if you’re friends with him, best friends with him, or engaged to him. Congratulations on the latter. He’s a decent person who deserves friends and loved ones. I don’t want you to have to choose sides… I’d really rather you don’t. This is purely my opinion of my own relationship with him. Thank you for understanding.

It felt like we were perfect for each other. We both loved cats and each had three. We had similar tastes in music and veganism. In fact he converted back to being vegan while we were friends. We both loved to read and enjoyed Doctor Who. And we were both creative, me with writing and him with jewelry making. Several years went by as we slowly started talking more and more. By the time he asked me out as his girlfriend we were talking all day, every day, from the moment I got up to the moment I went to bed. The only time we weren’t talking was when I was at work and, even then, we talked at every break. I even messaged at family gatherings.

my-dressWe made our relationship Facebook official within minutes of deciding to date and had our wedding roughly sketched out by our one month anniversary, something I’d carefully recorded in my calendar. My dress was bought by our two month anniversary, a lovely pastel pink and gold one, with enough sparkle for me and room for my boyfriend’s lace butterflies. I bought tickets to go meet him for that October and started counting down the days with an app. He immediately bought tickets to go see Wicked in London and informed me he would be singing all the songs. I assured him that chances are I’d end up singing them too. I pick up songs very quickly.

I look back at that time and remember how perfect everything felt then. I wasn’t lonely. How could I be with a boyfriend I talked to all the time? One who knew all my secrets. And soon I was going to have a dream vacation, followed by a dream wedding, and a move to Richmond, England. Me, the woman who, other than my first two months of life, had only ever lived in Whitby and Oshawa. And now I was going to move across the ocean. It was going to be an adventure.

The adventure came quickly to an end the day after he promised he wasn’t breaking up with me and two days after I confessed I was suicidal. The words didn’t seem real for a moment. Then I couldn’t breathe. He was breaking up with me? But he promised he wouldn’t.

We went back to friendship but it wasn’t like before, even though we still messaged regularly, and he blocked me a couple of months later with this message:

Well, I told you. It was your self fulfilling prophecy and you were the one pushing me away for daring to grow and change, so now, I am done.

Even at the end he couldn’t accept responsibility for his actions. Instead he blamed it on me. I was hurt enough to archive his message thread so I didn’t accidentally find it but that also made it really easy to find. Several years later I scrolled through to find a bit of information and was floored at the gaslighting and manipulation. It was not a healthy relationship at all. It took a while longer for me to realize that messaging with anyone constantly throughout the day isn’t healthy and while the relationship wasn’t good for me, it wasn’t good for him either.

I blocked him on Facebook this week which is something I would never have believed back in 2016. Then I figured he’d unblock me within weeks, months at the most. At this point I’m reasonably sure he’ll never unblock me and I finally, honestly, don’t care. I wish him all the best in his future and am simply relieved that future will not include me.

not my baggage

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

2016… the year that won’t die…

2016I started out thinking that 2016 was going to be my year. My best friend of five years had asked me to start dating him and, by February, we were already hammering out rough plans for a simple, yet simply perfect, wedding… complete with a hot air balloon ride and trip to the Doctor Who museum. I bought plane tickets to see him in October and had a countdown going on my phone for how many days I had left. He was counting down too.

At first the goal was for him to move in with me but then we switched to me moving there. I didn’t realize it at the time but a lot of the reason for my decision was deep depression. I simply didn’t feel like anyone other than Lenny wanted me so what point was there in staying in Canada?

I knew I was struggling. I had Ativan from my family doctor for panic attacks and a low dose of Effexor for depression and I still had to hold myself back with all my strength some days to keep from running, screaming, out the front door of work. I couldn’t do that. I needed to be employed. I needed to stay employable so that I could move. So I transferred stores to work at one a five minute walk from home. That cut out two hours of transit time a day but my anxiety and depression increased. I confessed to Lenny that I was suicidal and he broke up with me two days later. Then I wrote a long and rambling letter on Facebook which was worrying enough that my sister took me to the hospital.

Going to the hospital netted me with more medication and a psychiatrist but things weren’t perfect. There were gaps between the various forms of disability assistance and I had three months with no income (not sequentially). Lenny first backed out on having me stay over then he blocked me the morning after my first hospital stay. I’ve never heard from him again.

It wasn’t until the late fall that things started picking up but I was still suicidal and still struggling. And flipping the calendar to 2017 didn’t solve anything. I was back in the hospital in January and February. Then came income tax time and me, in my infinite wisdom, decided that maybe I wasn’t in the best mental condition to do my taxes, even though I do them every year. So I hired someone.

July rolled around and I got an unexpected windfall of $200 and change. It was nice but there had to be a reason why. And that reason was the person who did my taxes never included my rent so, when it came time to calculate the Trillium benefit, I got the bare minimum. So I worked with the Canadian Revenue Agency, sent in the information, and requested a lump sum payment in June 2018 instead of monthly payments.

Then Colin got audited for, you guessed it, 2016. They wanted proof of rent. We got a basic income tax statement showing out total rent and I wrote a letter on it saying he paid half while I paid the other half. Then his GST cheque arrived and I figured that was good enough. It wasn’t. He got another letter asking for proof that he’s on the lease AND proof he pays half the rent. Nothing’s ever that easy.

Trillium was supposed to be deposited yesterday. I checked at 7:30am when I woke up and nothing. But I’ve had deposits as late as 8am so I wasn’t too worried. At least until 8am arrived and my money didn’t. I had a group to attend so I called the CRA while I was walking to the bus, the whole bus ride, and walking to the group. Two wrong numbers and a number that lead to a message stating “All our operators are dealing with other clients and our queues are full. Please try again later.” Finally I got someone who wasn’t dealing with Trillium but used some of the same software. He discovered they didn’t have my letter so he transferred me to someone else who gave me a bunch of information that I wrote on a sheet of paper towel. I’d love to say that was it but I also had to sign up for their online site and that was another headache with another phone call.

So tomorrow I have to write a letter for our building’s office asking for a letter for both Colin and I and for him to be finally put on the lease. Then I need to hand deliver it first thing Monday morning and hope our letters are ready soon. Maybe then will 2016 finally be done and buried because I’m telling you, it is truly starting to stink!

 

Struggling with irrationality…

I’ve lived in my body for 47 years now and I had grown accustomed to how it behaved. Well at least up until two years ago when my depression quickly spiraled out of control and my anxiety skyrocketed.

These days I’m taking Effexor, Abilify, Mirtazapine, and Lithium to keep my depression in check and so far they’re working quite well. But I’m only taking one Clonazepam a day and, quite frankly, I might as well be taking a baby aspirin for the amount of help it seems to offer. I’m not about to stop taking it to see if it gets any worse. It got dropped down by half once already and that was not good.

Right now I’m working on getting myself out of the house for walks at least five times a week. On three of those days, I’m in a group right beside the Oshawa Creek trail so it makes sense to walk either there or back. That leaves two days to find an alternate path. Thankfully I have two other trails I frequent plus the walking track at our local recreation centre.

The hard part is getting out of my house. It’s so much safer and comfortable at home, especially in my room. I can read, write, scrapbook, and chat with friends. But the more time I spend at home, the stronger the urge is to not leave. And that’s a trap I don’t want to fall into.

I have my main trail mapped out in detail. I start out by the Midtown Mall then go under the John Street bridge, through the park, under the Gibb Street bridge, etc. I know the order of every bridge I’m going under and how many more I have to pass. That still doesn’t stopped the occasional sudden panicked feeling that I’m not home and, even if I left right now, I wouldn’t be home any time soon. I feel like a mouse under the gaze of a hawk, trapped and absolutely petrified. It takes every ounce of strength I have to keep taking one step after another. Thankfully the panic eventually fades, especially with a breathing exercise or counting down my senses (five things I can see etc).

Or like today. I was almost to the end of the trail, almost to my Social Recreation group, when a miniature street sweeper approached, cleaning the concrete path. The driver stopped the sweeper and waited for me to pass before starting again. Meanwhile I struggled with intense panic because that wasn’t supposed to happen. I can pass all the fishermen and women, the dog walkers, the joggers, the bikes, the people in scooters, the people on electric motorbikes… with no problem at all. I see them all regularly. But I’d never seen a sweeper on the trail. It was something new. Something different.

It’s frustrating because I know full well that’s an irrational fear. It makes sense to have a vehicle to clean the path. But that realization didn’t stop my heart from pounding or my chest from tightening, squeezing my lungs and making it hard to breathe. I assured myself, again and again, that I was safe and almost to group. It was only three blocks away. Even so I was still trembling slightly when I walked into the room and poured myself a glass of water. Luckily I don’t think anyone noticed.

It’s calling for rain all tomorrow so I’ll be walking on the track in our recreation centre. I haven’t walked there since December so I’m hoping my anxiety won’t be too overwhelming and that my music will help soothe it down.

The past two years have been a roller coaster of moods, emotions, and irrational fear and I don’t see them disappearing any time soon. Hopefully I’ll get used to this new normal, at least enough to make peace with it. Hopefully I can smooth out those irrational fears.

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Little blue flowers beside the Oshawa Creek

World Semicolon Day…

semicolon

image by Project Semicolon

As most of you know, I struggle with mental health issues. I’ve been diagnosed with major depressive disorder, severe anxiety, and agoraphobia (something I’m fighting hard against). I’ve been suicidal several times and luckily enough cognizant of the fact enough to ask for help. I’ve been hospitalized four times.
 
Today I speak out in support of world semicolon day for the millions who are too scared to speak up. Too scared to say something’s wrong. Too scared to reach out because they are positive no one will care. I promise, someone will care. I have a list of numbers and websites here that offer help and support.
 
Today I am grateful I didn’t jump.
tattoo no flash

A rest day…

So today is February 74th. The wind is howling outside my window and the snow is buried under a layer of ice, with more coming. In short, it’s the perfect day to stay home and rest…

*looks at my bed*

… something my cats are doing amazingly well.

I had my psychiatrist appointment on Thursday and my suspicions of agoraphobia are correct, so I have something new on my plate. I had an aunt (by marriage) on my Dad’s side of the family with agoraphobia and she ended up housebound. I don’t want to get that severe. So I push myself to get out most days, no matter how hard it is. Keeping track of my breathing helps a little. Finding things to see, hear, feel, and taste* helps a lot more. And sometimes I just grit my teeth and keep walking.

Then he mentioned that I do better in the summer, which is something I’ve said before, but then I stopped to think. I’ve been hospitalized in June and September, both of which are summer here. I think that suicidal depression is able to hit at any time but the long, low days are more likely to happen during winter. If that makes sense. Sometimes things that make sense in my head don’t translate as well on paper.

My fresh start is doing well, despite the weather. I was able to get out for two walks last week and, so far, have lost 2lbs. I’ve also made sure I’m eating a lot of vegetables and fruits. And luckily the weather is improving starting tomorrow, with warmer weather and less rain. Hopefully that trend will continue and we can move on to April and May instead of lengthening February.

And now I’m going to curl up in my swing chair and read, ignoring the wailing wind on the other side of the glass. Today’s my day to rest. Tomorrow I’ll work on walking again.

snow and ice storm

Picture taken from my room on February 73rd

* I am NOT actually tasting things on my walk. That one ends up simply being saliva and whatever I ate last.