Email to Psychiatrist II

Long time, no speak. Or see.

I am emailing you tonight because…well, there’s not a simple reason, I suppose. To start, my new therapist is fine, I suppose. She obviously doesn’t really compare to my relationship with you since we have four years of that and you know me very well, and you know I like to put up fights and you tend to deal with my bullshit pretty well. I actually skipped my last appointment with her. Most of it had to do with scheduling, but I also just felt no desire to go. The other woman, the one who deals with my medications, I have only seen once and she has failed to fill out my prescriptions for Latuda and Klonopin so I have been kind of floundering. I called to see what was up the other day but the receptionist never got back to me like she said she would. But I see this woman on Wednesday, so let’s hope I get my meds.

I was actually doing okay for a couple weeks, and then Monday I woke up and immediately was hit over the head with all these stressors (mostly expenses I don’t have the money for), so that was a shitty start to my day. Tuesday was worse. I got stuck in traffic on my way home from work (which I am quitting, even though I have no backup plan. Whatever.), for 45 minutes, and I was already in a rough mood so I started to cry, and when I got home I cried a lot more.
The rest of the week I have been exceptionally anxious. I’m having those feelings of derealization and it’s so unpleasant, scary, and uncomfortable…I do not know what to do. I feel very alone in this, and I feel as though something is deeply wrong with me. I have been passively suicidal, because, well, I’d rather die than feel insane.
What a cheery email.
– Zara
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The Plague of Anxiety (I)

I’ve been an anxious person all my life. Even as a child, I never felt truly capable of relaxing. I worried about school constantly, despite how easy elementary school was, looking back now.

My anxiety has worsened with time and especially with a particular drug experience which I can’t remember if I’ve written about in length or not. Anyway, in 2012 I started taking Klonopin to help ease my anxiety. As much as medication can help, I feel like it has more of a placebo effect than anything else. When I start to feel anxious, these days, I take a pill, and my mind is eased. Usually.

I’ve been reading this book titled Don’t Panic: Taking Control of Anxiety Attacks by R. Reid Wilson and though very dated (it was published in 1996), there is a lot of useful and interesting information. Just seeing what I experience in writing, in someone else’s words, is validating. As I’m reading the book I’m thinking, “Yes, yes! This is me. This is exactly what I do!”

Something I found particularly interesting is how chronic anxiety can manifest itself in other ways than merely just feeling panicked or anxious from time to time. These symptoms, linked to anxiety, caught my attention because I experience them: headaches, the need for frequent urination, cramp-like pains in the stomach, difficulty becoming sexually aroused or achieving orgasm, irritability, and impatience.

Anxiety literally rules my life. I’m constantly on edge, just waiting for the next panic attack, wondering how I’m going to get through it, and sometimes my constant vigilance and preparation actually causes me to go into a panic. My mind is its own worst enemy. My mind likes to play tricks on me. My emergency response is miswired, for whatever reason.

When people ask me how I deal with anxiety and panic, I wish I could offer better advice. I’ve heard meditation helps. I was unable to commit to it. I’ve heard yoga helps, but any green-juice-drinking white yuppie will tell you that yoga cures all ailments. Medication can help immensely, but you have to find one that works for you (and have health insurance). Many people with anxiety use drugs and alcohol (hello, self) to cope, which just really backfires because of the physiological response that occurs. I don’t have better advice because I’m still constantly struggling.

I will leave you with my favorite quote from the book: “No one has to earn the right to be loved; we are already loveable.”

-Zara

 

 

Consume(d)

I have been terribly absent from this blog, and for those of you who actually read my posts, I’m egotistical enough to say that I hope you have missed me. I think my absence is just a product of apathy. In general, over the past five or so months I’ve been at a loss for words. I haven’t been writing–not on here, not on my own time, and getting myself to sit down and write papers for school has been a struggle.

It’s been a stressful few weeks, to say the least.

It’s been a stressful semester.

I need to find a new job. The reason as to why is very stupid. The hiring manager neglected to tell me that colored hair (and my hair is blue, okay) is a dress code violation and won’t be tolerated. So after over a week of working there, I was told to get rid of it, basically. Well, I’m stubborn, and not easily persuaded by minimum wage, so no, I’m not going to chop my hair off to satisfy The Man. Therefore, the hunt for yet another new job begins. I have not told my parents about this yet because it’s shameful.

Ever since I received the assignment to create a radio play for my poetry class, a dark cloud of anxiety has been floating above my brain. I finally got to record and edit it, so it’s done, but today I have to present it, and I don’t know how to utilize technology so I’m not sure how I’ll do it. I have three research papers to write, all due on my birthday. I still have six books to read in the next five weeks.

I’m just very overwhelmed and very tired. I had a good day yesterday–I got through my Scholar’s Day reader’s theater presentation and had the support of my father and my best friend. Bennett and I went to breakfast, then I took her to her first bar. Later, as we went outside my house to smoke, I felt myself crumbling. I just started crying and apologizing, subsequently, profusely. I feel attacked and overthrown by my mental illness and I feel alone in the battle. I have no therapist or psychiatrist anymore, and the medications I’m on are doing absolutely nothing. No matter what my friends say, I feel like I can’t talk to them about my state of mental health, and anyway, to be honest, they’re not entirely all that helpful. There’s something about a mental health professional that’s just…more useful. Not that I don’t love my friends, because I do, and I’m grateful they are willing to listen. I just don’t feel welcome to speak of such things. Because they can’t help me. And I haven’t told my family how poorly I’ve been doing because it’s shameful.

All of this morning I’ve been having anxiety attacks. It’s, without much doubt, a combination of stress, PMS, and depression. I don’t feel safe in my own mind and in my own body. I want to tell my dad, but I won’t because it’s shameful.

Right now I’m just holed up in the library, looking for new jobs, feeling like shit, and wanting a cigarette or to just die, really, because dying would be the ultimate relief from this storm that’s raging inside my skull.

-Zara

Medication Update

I’ve lost track of how many updates I’ve done, but as for the Latuda and Lithium combination, it’s been six days of 750mg of Lithium combined with 60mg of Latuda. I went from 10 to 20 to 40 combined with my full dose of 900mg of Lithium over about a month.

Here are the Latuda side effects:

  • dizziness, fainting, fast or pounding heartbeats;
  • agitation, hostility, confusion, thoughts about hurting yourself;
  • seizure (convulsions);
  • fever, chills, body aches, flu symptoms, sores in your mouth and throat;
  • high blood sugar (increased thirst, increased urination, hunger, dry mouth, fruity breath odor, drowsiness, dry skin, blurred vision, weight loss);
  • very stiff (rigid) muscles, high fever, sweating, confusion, fast or uneven heartbeats, tremors, feeling like you might pass out;
  • trouble swallowing; or
  • twitching or uncontrollable movements of your eyes, lips, tongue, face, arms, or legs.
  • drowsiness;
  • feeling restless;
  • nausea, diarrhea, stomach pain, loss of appetite;
  • blurred vision;
  • weight gain;
  • breast swelling or discharge;
  • missed menstrual periods; or
  • decreased sex drive, impotence, or difficulty having an orgasm.

I haven’t noticed much in terms of side effects, actually, nothing at all, aside from nausea, which I also experienced while very slowly increasing my dose of Lithium. Maybe I’m susceptible to nausea. I did notice that I’ve vomited twice in the past month or so after drinking. I rarely vomit from drinking. The last time, aside from late November, was April of 2014. So the nausea is not my favorite. It’s just plain uncomfortable. I’m also worried about gaining (more) weight, so I hope that “loss of appetite” side effect kicks in at some point.

Nevertheless, the last time I saw my psychiatrist, he said I seem to be doing better. It’s hard for me to tell sometimes. I’m still depressed and feel a lack of motivation in terms of eating better and exercising. The lack of daylight doesn’t help, nor does the exhaustion that comes from work and school and driving so much. But I have been somewhat motivated when it comes to my writing. I went on a big submission kick, started a new short fiction piece, wrote a few poems, and have been more active on here. The passive suicidal thoughts are mostly gone. I have my worries, but I don’t feel overly stressed about them. I haven’t cried in a while. Today I realized it’s been about three months since I had a panic attack, which is really, really good.

I hope the good continues and the bad continues to dwindle. I’d like to start being more physically active, despite it being winter. I’d like to continue being active with my writing. I hope my mood stays where it is, or better yet, improves. I have some home. Some.

–Zara

The Suffering of One for the Greater Good.

I’m thinking about this concept because while I, one in over 7 billion people on the planet, had a good day today, the rest of the world did not.

I went to the financial aid office and the office of student accounts at my university and found out that what I owe for the year is actually next to nothing. I’ve been thinking I owed thousands of dollars when I owe less than a thousand for the year. It made me feel unstoppable – something good happened for me??? Unheard of! I immediately thought, Something is going to go wrong. Probably with my car. But I was able to drive to the mechanic and they checked my transmission fluid levels. It’s still leaking, but it’s okay for now. So, more good news. I was already feeling productive. These were both things I didn’t want to deal with yet the end results had been unexpectedly good. I went to Rite Aid to get my prescription. Another thing I can check off the list. Then I went to ULTA, in dire need of a new face powder, and had a grand ol’ time just browsing around the store. I got four beautiful lipsticks and my face powder for just over eleven dollars. Not too bad. I was feeling good. I came home and checked my grade for a paper I recently submitted (and worked really hard on): I received a 97 out of 100. Thank god these phenomenal grades will not be wasted.

But then there’s what’s actually going on outside of my very small, personal world; the terrorist attack in Paris, the Earthquakes in Japan and Mexico, among other things, all happened today.

I’m not saying this applies solely to me. I’m not that important. But is it possible that individuals must suffer in order for there to be harmony elsewhere in the world? Did my random, atypical “good day” throw the world off balance? Did my few moments of joy somehow cause the world to teeter? Is that so unbelievable?

I don’t know. If it is or it isn’t, I felt guilty for having a good day while so many others suffered. What if I had just experienced an ordinary, mundane, miserable day like I do 98% of the time? Would that somehow have changed the course of human existence and experience?

I’m also not sure if that qualifies as narcissism or just…delusion.

Z

Fuck Fear

It’s 4:17am. I went to bed around 1am. I’ve given up on sleep for now. I’m too warm, too cramped in my twin bed, and my mind is restless. While I’m up, I thought I’d give those of you who care a bit of an update.

I’ve been pushing away the fact that I’m starting classes somewhere completely new and 30 miles away from my home out of my head all summer. Finally, on Saturday night, I decided that I should really check out what books I need since my first day is in a week.

I was pretty disturbed to see that for just one of my classes, I needed five books. I continued to scroll. One for that class, seven for that class, Jesus Christ on the cross, and oh my god, eleven for that class? Are you serious? This can’t be right. Who can afford this, even with renting and buying used?

So with the realization that I needed over 20 books for four classes in one semester, I basically broke down. I just thought, I can’t do this, I can’t even afford to buy the fucking books, how do I do this? I can’t. Not being able to navigate the overly-confusing website or find my student email added fuel to the fire. I was sobbing. I felt no control over the situation.

And then after calming down a bit, I had a thought. I don’t want to be afraid anymore.

I am so tired of being consumed by fear every waking moment. I’m so tired of fear controlling my life. There is so much I want to do and I need to stop allowing my own insecurities and doubts get in the way. If I tell myself I will fail, I WILL FAIL. I need to stop and think and reevaluate my self-worth and my abilities. I hate working. So what? Everyone hates working. Remembering that makes me feel better about it. College is tough? My god, it’s so fucking hard (and EXPENSIVE) but it took me long enough to realize what I wanted to do and I am determined to do what I need to do to get where I want to be. I am not going to be 30 years old and working the same job I have now. I will not accept that.

Obviously, I am not going to feel this way all the time. I still am very worried about the whole school thing. But I know for a fact that I will get through it because I want to and because I can. And it’s going to take me a long time to learn how to relax even a little. But I want to. I just want to fucking relax for once in my life.

My friend told me today, “You think like a man.” Which is kind of true. I’m not an emotional thinker, despite being a very emotional person. I can shove those emotions aside and break down what I’m feeling into a psychological, scientific formula. Being so analytical and logical has its perks but it also means I can’t just “go with the flow”. No, there has to be an explanation for what I’m feeling and what’s happening. And sometimes my “logic” is wrong. Like that girl I’ve been talking to. Well, we were texting and she asked, “Why didn’t you kiss me the other night?” This took me by surprise a little bit because 1) I have no self-esteem and think no one can be physically attracted to me BASED ON THE LOGIC of sexual attraction and physically attractive qualities that I do not possess and 2) I attempted to analyze her body language throughout the entire evening but could not make a definitive conclusion so therefore, I did not “make a move”.

But there ya go. My reasoning and calculating was wrong. My intuition had turned out to be correct, I just didn’t act on it, because to me, it didn’t add up.

I’m just tired of feeling out of control. I do have control. Not over everything, but most things. And I can control how I handle situations. I need to get better with that.

There’s just so much to do. And by God, I’m gonna do it.

Z

Absent, Part III – A Multitude of Updates

I’ve been away, accidentally, yet again, and please accept my apology.

Things have been almost like static for the past week.

I graduated to 825mg of Lithium, after taking 750mg for 15 days.

I’ve felt fairly consistently depressed and once my ovulation cycle ended, my anxiety spiked. I’ve felt a lot of panic and derealization, to the point of (not that this is uncommon) genuinely being scared for my mental health. It’s honestly quite tiring, and I think those of you who follow me and have some form of mental illness(es) can understand that. It’s frightening to think that you might be going insane, exhausting to have these thoughts nearly all day, every day, and frustrating to not know what to do about them.

I think because of my lack of money and therefore my lack of opportunities to “go out” (and by that I mean simple things like going to a book or thrift store, getting coffee, eating out, things I CAN do when I have spare cash), my social anxieties have worsened as well. I won’t walk into a building first – I need someone else I’m with to walk in before me. The other day I went to Savers, a thrift store, by myself. First time in a while. Oh, also, I had an anxiety attack while driving there – I’ve never had an anxiety attack while driving, so I’m not taking this as a good sign. But anyway, while I was in the store, I wanted to take a look at the shoes. I headed over there then saw a man looking at the shoes, so I just turned and walked away. I did the same thing in another aisle.

I can’t believe it’s August. I don’t have money to pay for orientation or my books or even school supplies. I’m not ready for this new “thing” and I’m totally dreading it.

A person from my past messaged me via Facebook last night. This person was once my friend. We got into a shitty situation. We left on unsaid terms. I hadn’t heard from this person in nearly two years. And all this person could ask me was if I “hate[d]” them. I said no, I don’t, and I hope that gives them the self-assurance they need.

Earlier today I tried to take a nap to escape my depression and anxiety but every time I drifted into near-unconsciousness, my mind went into panic mode. It was scary and uncomfortable and I don’t know why it happens.

It seems as though nothing I do is working in my favor and I’m at this point I can’t see any meaning behind anything. Why continue my education? Why even try? Why get a job? Why try a new medication? I told my friend, and as terrible as this sounds, I meant and it and mean it sincerely; if I were to get diagnosed with a terminal illness or, even better, shot in the head, it would be a godsend at this point. I have an appointment with my psychiatrist on Wednesday and I’ve been so tempted to cancel it (I won’t, I know better) because I can’t even see a point in that.

-Z