Sharing Some Love

The good people never really die.

Don’t miss the beautiful stories because they don’t fit within your preconceived ideals.

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The yarn in this piece of wall art – and five other pieces I finished today – belonged to a friend of mine who lost her battle with cancer two years ago. Yesterday was her birthday.

After she passed her husband gifted her yarn to me, and yesterday I began to use it for the project to raise funds for an orphanage. She was a social worker, a mental health advocate and one hell of a woman. Kathy, I hope you enjoy seeing your love continue to be shared, as you were so generous yourself in sharing it.

Week One Off the Meds

When they all seem to conspire against you…

I’m not going to post about this every week, but I have made it through the first week of coming off my medications. It was hell. And I’m still full of synthetic chemicals. 

The situations and circumstances around me were the real issue, not my response to quitting my first prescription. I’m ok. Maybe a little more grumpy, a little more intense and a little more looking for connection. There’s also a slight internal shift I can’t put my finger on yet. I might have a little more ability to push through? I think I might also be slimming down a tad. Or it was the 6 hours of playing ball on Wednesday…

Between my family, my friends and my job, the week was bonkers. I’m not sure who called who to sabotage my sanity this week, but they did their damndest. I don’t hate people any more than usual though, and I successfully ran a meeting full of strangers, so… Maybe that was a test? I guess I passed? 

I reckon it’ll be January before I’m completely off everything. That’s a bit ambitious, but I’m nothing if not ambitious. And if this goes the way I’m planning for it to, I’ll be much better off by my birthday. 

Going Off My Meds

It’s a planned, slow process, and I’m both concerned and excited.

Got my annual notice that my health insurance premiums are increasing by 21% and my coverage is decreasing by 30%. I dare you to try to defend the Affordable Care Act to me. I dare it, but I don’t recommend it.

That letter arrived at a time that I was already thinking about stopping using the medication I’m on, not just for cost reasons, although that was a small part of it, but because my body has been telling me that these things are no longer good for me. My anxiety patterns, my occasional and otherwise inexplicable feeling like I’ve been hit by a truck, and a few other things have all made me begin to think that maybe the meds are no longer serving their purpose.

My therapist agreed.

I was really surprised to have her full support for that decision. She think that I might see significant improvement in my mental health, and cautioned that I will need to wean off of them slowly and one at a time rather than just stopping, so I now have a scheduled plan that starts Monday.

To be transparent about this, I have been on birth control pills for over a decade because when I was younger my periods were extremely heavy (enough to cause anemia) and one day I bled so much at work I had to leave, and a very kind coworker helped me get out without leaving an embarrassing trail. For me, that was it. I’m also on a low dose of Lexapro, been on 10 mg for two years now, and at this point since I haven’t increased the dose, it’s time to get off.

The Xanax stays. I had a massive anxiety episode when I got back from a conference last night and it was the chemical kind. I also don’t take it every day or even every week.

So this will be great or I’ll be back on them in two months, time to find out!

Yeah, No, Still a Dick

The truth can be a challenging thing.

So I have a friend who I suspect may have undiagnosed Autism Spectrum Disorder. My business partner is on the spectrum as was not diagnosed until adulthood, so I have some degree of familiarity with the behaviors and challenges of the disorder, which I don’t even like to call that because our brains are just such complex things and are all very different.

This, however, if you read my previous post, has come to my attention and consideration because my friend’t behavior is often odd, and occasionally borderline lunacy. She drove an hour to a town and back with a full car of people with her left leg hanging out the driver’s window, foot propped on the mirror, because, as she has told me, “It’s more comfortable that way.”

No, it is not, and you are a lunatic. How no one in the car made her stop is beyond me, but her behaviors are so over the top so often that no one else seems to know what to do with her. She also has yet to take responsibility for ANYTHING. If she were the youngest in this friend group, whatever, live and learn, but no, she is the second oldest behind me, and her nonsense has started to generate quite a bit of talk behind her back.

If I’m right, she could really benefit from learning about why emotional connections and relationships are challenging for her, and why, as she has told me, she’s never really had friends. As a defense she refuses to wear makeup, insists she doesn’t have a mirror in her house (false but one could believe she doesn’t use it to any advantage), she declared that the restaurant yesterday didn’t have a fork and ate her slice of pie with a knife, including licking said knife (plenty of forks and one arrived on her plate with her pie), she insisted on picking up and driving everyone she could there and back (I had other engagements and drove myself, thus maintaining my sanity), she brought a frozen pie into the restaurant for the girls who are gluten-free, who then declared they couldn’t eat anything off the menu then ate everyone’s leftover fries and failed to tip our very patient waitress, she spent seven minutes processing her pie selection out loud, and barely talked to me at church today because the guy she dumped sat next to me. She tends to sulk when she isn’t good at our pickup games (she’s not a very good athlete nor is she athletic and doesn’t embrace it), and no one cares or notices that she sits out and sulks because we’re all busy having a good time, which is the point. I notice though.

Do I tell her my suspicions?

That was just a small piece of what I pretty much deal with from her 7 days a week. It’s either in person or via text, and I just don’t get it, unless she has an undiagnosed condition and has never recognized that something may not be quite right – hence all of this. She tends to mirror people she perceives as being well-liked, but the execution is often terrible. I think a lot of her over the top behavior and verbal disdain toward social etiquette and norms is because she’s uncomfortable and unsure, and because she wants people to like her but doesn’t know how.

Do I tell her? Or do I just let it go? And if I do tell her, how the hell do I start that conversation?

 

I Finally Had an Open Conversation with My Mom

She accepts that I am not ok, and may never be.

My Mom had it hard growing up. I’ll likely never know how hard. She deals with things quietly and doesn’t often show emotion.

I am about as opposite as it gets, with one exception. I can act, and I can make anyone believe anything. Even her.

We had a long talk today. Yesterday I had multiple stressors, and it was all topped off by my notice that my health insurance premiums are increasing AGAIN by 21% while my coverage is decreasing by an average of 27%. Just try to justify the Affordable Care Act to me. I’ll destroy you and your paltry stance.

Yesterday was also the first time that “suicide” crossed my mind. Twice. Because I am tired of fighting a condition I can’t seem to beat. Tired of not feeling like I can achieve anything, that I can’t get ahead, that I can’t live the life I want. I have never been suicidal, and am not suicidal, but that was the first time I’ve had the thought. It scared me, and I prayed hard. I was able to tell Mom that had happened, and she completely accepted it with no judgement, just an offer to always be there if those thoughts happen again.

She acknowledged that what I have is real, that it’s exhausting and that it has changed my life. She thinks it’s ok if I have to tone down some of my ambition, if I push responsibility onto others. She also said that even though she doesn’t understand my work, she knows I’m really good at it. My Mom is one of the most talented and hardest working people I know, and that was a really uplifting compliment.

I’m reminded in this that God provides. He always has for me. He did today too.

The Depression Side of Recovery

This is the part I struggle against the most.

When I was diagnosed with PTSD I was also diagnosed with mild depression and prescribed a low dose SSRI. I haven’t upped the dose in the two years I’ve been on it, and based on my rapid tolerance increase for Xanax and alcohol (is there such a thing as having a pre-conditioned liver from a family history of substance abuse?), I am pretty sure the SSRI is useless at this point. I have a choice to make this winter, increase the dose or stop taking it, because it really isn’t having much effect for me and I like to take as few medications as possible.

I think the management of mental health by medication is an individual choice, and I have very little to say about other’s choices. What I know for me is that the goal is to gain enough stability through thought and behavioral changes that I can be medication-free, after using medication to help me through the process of getting stable. However, that means there will be not as good days. Depression kills my motivation to do ANYTHING, particularly anything that is good for me (I never want a salad when I’m experiencing depression, ya know?).

I am getting my ambition back, some of my creativity back, a lot of ME back. Depression kills all of that and stuffs it in a hole. Because I can’t predict depressive episodes, I never know when I will not be having it. Once upon a time I had the discipline to keep going and push through, but after doing that for two years following severe trauma, I can’t anymore. It isn’t there. The strength to push through is gone, and it’s incredibly frustrating because I want so badly for it to be there. I have things to do!

I am finally able to put those feelings into words, and the first step for me in any aspect of my recovery is usually understanding and acknowledging what is happening so that I can address it. I can say then, “I am experiencing depression. Depression causes a lack of motivation toward accomplishing things that are important to me. I can find a way to address this.” And that, y’all, is why I pay a therapist!

The New Normal? Geez I Hope Not.

I think it would actually be better to just accept that my family does not accommodate or support my struggle with mental illness and make peace with it.

I’m about a week into moving from my normal anxiety program into anger/rage/short fuse under tight control. I don’t want to explode on someone and hurt their feelings.

After a week of this I have zero idea still of what is behind it, and can only guess its some combination of weather/trauma anniversary approaching/lack of support from my family/stupid friends/driving in rain a few days (I wrecked in the rain). I have done different things every day, eaten sugar, not eaten sugar, eaten gluten, not eaten gluten, taken vitamins, drank more water, gotten more sleep, shrugged off some responsibilities, taken on some responsibilities, exercised, not exercised, read before bed, eaten tacos and organized my work space.

No. Change.

Now it feels like the new normal, which is not good news, and I don’t know how to change it because the things I usually do to feel better are having zero noticeable effect. And since I’m pissed of at everything all day anyway (plus there is not a minute of the day that I don’t want to DRINK), I’m more annoyed than usual at my weight, my work, my family, my friends and my hair.

I can exercise choice, right?

Might be time to make that plan to lose the trauma weight.

I have been ON IT at work, which is going really well, and I am also putting it down when the work day is over.

I think it would actually be better to just accept that my family does not accommodate or support my struggle with mental illness and make peace with it. 4 years later they are not going to change even as I continue to. And that’s really ok.

My friends and their bonkers relationships are also not my problem. Better to accept their weird selves and not insert myself into what annoys me.

I got a haircut, and it looks amazing. Go me.