30 Day Writing Challenge – Day Twelve

prompt

I don’t really like the word “blessings” (#blessed!!!!) but okay. Five things in my life I’m grateful for:

  1. My best friend, Bennett. She is always on the top of my list and always will be. I’ve never experienced a friendship like ours with anyone else. She’s the only person who can make me laugh hysterically while I’m in a fit of tears. While we’re two completely different people, we fit like pieces of a puzzle. We’re each other’s biggest critics and each other’s biggest fans and supporters. I’m so grateful to have her stand by me no matter what, and I’m so glad I can be my weird, goofy self with her.
  2. My brother. I spent so many years resenting my brother (with good reason, as a child) and still have some days where his very presence annoys me but I couldn’t live without him. When I started high school, we started hanging out more, and we have so many memories together. I’ll never forget hiding from the park security, lying flat on our backs behind a downed log in the woods, or smoking pot on the beach in North Carolina. He is also one of my biggest critics as well as one of my biggest supporters. He’s the one person I can truly trust with anything and everything.
  3. My talent for writing, and subsequently realizing I want to pursue it as a career. I spent over two years thinking it was a futile excursion, but I realize now that it’s not. I’m so happy to be truly passionate about something. When I’m writing, I’m lost in the words. The feeling I get after producing a piece I’m proud of is unlike any other. And even if I don’t “make it” as a writer, I’m sure as hell going to try.
  4. Nature.
  5. Art.

–Zara

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30 Day Writing Challenge – Day Ten

prompt

There are many things I feel strongly about: women’s rights, LGBT rights, animal rights, nature as a whole, mental health issues. But I’m going to go with art. This includes visual art, fine art, literature, etc.

I think art is crucially important to humanity and when I see questions like, “Would the world have been better off without Christianity?” all I can think of is, But what about all the art we’d miss out on?

There are some people who don’t think art classes should even exist in an academic setting. I know myself and many others benefitted from art classes. In middle school, I only got to take art for one year because the other years I was put in an extra math class in order to “help” me. I’ve never been good at math. It’s my weakest subject. And all the extra time in elementary, middle, and high school that was structured to “help” me simply didn’t. But I love art. When I was finally able to pick and choose a bit more of what I wanted to take in high school, I always took art classes. I got frustrated with things like sketching and drawing but I love painting and I’m not bad at it. I made friends in those classes. I produced work I was proud of. It was a short period in which I enjoyed being in school. I even took an art history course during college and it was fantastic. I took it for the hell of it and I learned a lot and it was a class I genuinely enjoyed, even without producing art myself.

Writing is a dying art. So much so that, for a while, in college, I figured it wasn’t even worth pursuing as a career. However, when I took creative writing, I got a little more serious about it. My talent was noticed in various ways, and again, I produced work I was extremely proud of. I took all the writing courses I could – playwriting, nonfiction, short fiction, and poetry – and I loved every single one of them. Now I’m a creative writing major and I plan on getting a PhD so I can someday pass down what I’ve learned and help others hone their own craft. Even though my short fiction professor at my current school admits to short stories being a “dying” art form, they still exist. There is still hope for all art.

I feel passionate about art because it’s something I flock to. I dream of visiting the famous museums in Italy and France. I can only imagine standing in the Sistine Chapel. I someday envision myself as a pronounced writer, teaching others, living comfortably because of art.

We live in the age of science and technology. That’s not a bad thing. But art should never be forgotten. And it should not always simply be created with Photoshop.

–Zara

Drug Information

This is a piece I wrote for my nonfiction class back at MCC, titled “Drug Information”. It’s a list of just some of the medications I’ve been on over the years and their official uses and side effects intertwined with my own experiences. Thanks for reading. –Zara

Abilify (Aripiprazole): Used to treat mood disorders as well as depression. You will be handed multiple sample packets of this to try alongside your other mood stabilizer. Your psychiatrist won’t tell you that it’s also an antipsychotic, which is probably why you don’t have success with it. It claims to improve concentration, however, you will just feel restless and irritable. You will tap your foot much more often than you already do.

Deplin (l-methylfolate): Technically a medical food, this is used in patients with low red blood cell folate. This will be added on to your Lamictal prescription, although Deplin should not be mixed with Lamictal or other anticonvulsants, as they can interfere with its effects. It can, however, be added onto an antidepressant, but remember, antidepressants are not good for your mental disorder. No common side effects of Deplin have been reported, so if you do experience anything out of the ordinary, such as an allergic reaction, seek medical attention immediately. You were wrong to be prescribed Deplin and you will be taken off it quickly.

Effexor (Venlafaxine): This is an antidepressant. You’re not supposed to take antidepressants, but you’re 15 and you listen to your psychiatrist blindly. Some young people have suicidal thoughts while taking Effexor, and you will be one of them. You will feel agitated and irritable, impulsive, hostile, and your thoughts will be cloudy. You will carve the inside of your forearm with a razor while taking Effexor and you will be hospitalized; don’t worry though, everything will go back to normal sooner than you think.

Gabapentin (Neurontin):  An anticonvulsant, originally developed to treat epilepsy, and is currently also used to relieve neuropathic pain and restless leg syndrome, also used to treat bipolar disorder and anxiety disorders. You will take this after stopping Lamictal, but it will be unsuccessful as well. Side effects include weight gain, dizziness, fatigue, sexual dysfunction, swelling of hands and feet, and blurred vision. Less common, and more serious, side effects include flu-like symptoms, jaundice, loss of appetite, stomach pain, shortness of breath, chest pain, confusion, and vomiting, so beware.

Klonopin (Clonazepam): A very popular benzodiazapine. This does help to subside your anxiety, but certainly not enough, as you constantly live in a state of panic. Speaking of panic, it will not help you with your panic attacks, as it takes up to an hour for this medication to kick in. It’s almost useless, but no doctor will prescribe you Xanax, so you’ll have to deal with it. Remember to get your blood tests done to make sure your liver is still intact. You really shouldn’t drink while taking Klonopin, since it can be fatal, but you will anyway.

Lamictal (Lamotrigine): One of the many anticonvulsants you will be prescribed. It also, supposedly, treats mood episodes in adults with bipolar disorder. You will be on this medication for years and experience no positive difference, but you will be too afraid and too exhausted to switch to anything new. You may experience thoughts of suicide – ironic, isn’t it?

Lithium: A natural element which is supposed to affect mania (too bad you hardly ever experience hypomania). Despite this, you’re willing to try anything at this point, and you’ve heard of great success stories from people with bipolar disorder taking Lithium. Who cares if it destroys your kidneys? You’ve moved past that. Lithium will make you nauseous, cause your hands and feet to tingle incessantly, and screw up your digestive system, but it will pass. You already have a small bladder, but be sure to drink plenty of water while taking this medication. Also remember to go for your bi-weekly blood tests.

Tegretol (Carbamazepine): Another anticonvulsant, but it is supposed to help with bipolar disorder too. You will experience hardly any adverse side effects when starting Tegretol, which is surprising. You will feel much better around 800 mg. You will be exercising regularly, eating right, and generally feeling hopeful about the future. You will be amazed. But this will end, and you will sink back into a deep depressive state. You will gain all the weight you lost back. You will stop engaging in healthy activities. You will make poor choices. You will feel suicidal. It will be as if you did a complete 180. Your psychiatrist will continue to raise to dosage in attempt to help you, but this will cause a toxic reaction, so you will request to stop taking Tegretol. Weaning off this will be a bitch, too, just to warn you.

Topamax (Topiramate): An anticonvulsant primarily used to control epilepsy as well as prevent migraines. It’s also approved for weight loss, which is your main incentive for willingly trying it, but again, it too will be unsuccessful. It is used to treat bipolar disorder, yet there is no evidence to support its use in bipolar disorder. However, if you do become an alcoholic (and you’re well on your way), good news! It’s successful as a treatment for alcoholism. Common side effects of Topamax include dizziness, weight loss (you won’t lose any noticeable weight, though – too bad), nausea, fatigue, numbness in the arms and legs, and stomach pain.

Trileptal (Oxcarbazepine): An anticonvulsant also used to treat bipolar disorder, and another medication you will have no success with. Common side effects include dizziness, drowsiness, headache, weakness, balance problems, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, indigestion, tremors, and vision problems. Do not drink alcohol while taking Trileptal. Call your doctor right away if you experience changes in mood (shouldn’t it change your mood, though? Well, it doesn’t anyway), suicidal thoughts, signs of inflammation, liver problems, or severe skin reactions. Trileptal can decrease the sodium in your body and cause a life-threatening reaction, so be on the look out. During the sample period of a year, the FDA reported 50 deaths directly related to Trileptal. Tread lightly.

 

30 Day Writing Challenge – Day Eight

Something I struggle with:
My mental illness, as many of you already know.
I was diagnosed as having bipolar type two quite young, so young, in fact, that for a long time I doubted my diagnosis. But as time has gone on and psychiatrists have come and gone and research has been done, I realize it’s accurate.
I’ve been through many medications, some listed in a nonfiction piece I wrote which I think I’ll post. I’ve been on many that did nothing, many that worsened my condition, and a couple that helped for short while.
I struggle with things others may take for granted. I have to take medications every day and deal with their subsequent side effects. It’s a long process of never-ending trial and error. My moods shift abruptly and when I’m very depressed, I don’t feel like doing anything and it’s obvious. My illness is unique to me. I cry more easily than others, am extremely quick to anger, and once in a while, experience complete mental breakdowns, some more serious than others. I’ve dealt with self destructive behavior for nearly nine years, including cutting, binge drinking, and drug use.

My generalized anxiety and panic disorders also contribute to the way I deal with the world and how I experience life. Sometimes simply going into a public place seems daunting, and I quickly evacuate after entering. I never know when another panic attack will happen and despite how many times I’ve experienced the attacks, it’s never any less frightening.

So many people struggle with some kind of mental illness, and I’m thankful for those of us who attempt to help others and also break the stigma in society. It’s tough to live in a world which doesn’t like to acknowledge such issues exist. Some people tell us we’re wrong, we’re being dramatic, to just get over ourselves. If only it were that simple.

At least we can struggle together.

–Zara

30 Day Writing Challenge – Day Seven

prompt

Has it been a week already?

Well, this prompt is right up my alley, considering I do a “Current Jams” post every month. Here are ten more songs I’ve been loving lately:

  1. “Symphony of the Nymph” – Ariel Pink. Favorite lyric: “I don’t need to burn any bridges / but I can’t get enough of those bitches.”
  2. “Floyd the Barber” – Nirvana. Favorite lyric: “I can’t see, I’m really scared / Floyd breathes hard, I hear a zip.”
  3. “Slide In” – Goldfrapp. Favorite lyric: “Trees bow to the wind and
    I’m falling inside you.”
  4. “Fool” – Borns. Favorite lyric: “Swimming through the wreckage of my mind in the deepest of emotions.”
  5. “I Might Be Wrong” – Radiohead. Favorite lyric: “I used to think / There is no future left at all.”
  6. “The Strangers” – St. Vincent. Favorite lyric: “Playboys under the mattress like I wouldn’t notice.”
  7. “The Nobodies” – Marilyn Manson. Favorite lyric: “Yesterday I was dirty / Wanted to be pretty / I know now that I’m forever dirt.”
  8. “The Line It Curves” – David Lynch. Favorite lyric: “‘Cause you’re the woman / who broke my heart / ’cause you’re the only one / that can mend this heart.”
  9. “Again” – Archive. Favorite lyric: “If I was to walk away / From you, my love / Could I laugh again?”
  10. “God Knows I Tried” – Lana Del Rey. Favorite lyric: “Sometimes I wake up in the morning / to red, blue, and yellow skies / it’s so crazy, I could drink it / like tequila sunrise.”

Let me know if you’ve listened to any of these or you gave a listen to something new.

–Zara