What if you can’t tell?

Had another psychiatrist appointment today.  This dr is keeping good tabs on me, which is a good thing, I guess.  I see him monthly.  I guess I didn’t expect to see him that frequently, seeing how overbooked and overworked our mental health system is.  But, hey, I’ll take it.

My anxiety is through the roof.  The house is up for sale but we haven’t had any offers.  The new house is built, and they are in the process of putting in the hardwood floors this week.  Every other day I have a meeting with my partner, the designer or contractor, or a house showing. I feel like I’m going insane.

But then there are times when I’m fine. I feel calm. I feel okay. I wouldn’t say that I’m super happy, but I’m definitely okay. Unfortunately, these days, the days when I am fine are infrequent.

So today, when my psychiatrist asked how I was doing, I didn’t know what to say. How do I sum up that I feel mostly okay depression-wise, but not so okay anxiety-wise, but oh, it’s not all the time, but most of the time?  Well, I think that is pretty much what I said.  But what really sucks about having depression/anxiety is that my concentration is shit and my comprehension is sluggish.  So, self-assessment is not exactly my forte.  I try to “check in” with myself, to compare myself to last month, or two months ago, but I find it incredibly difficult.  Am I better than I was last month? Worse?  I think I had a good bump up when the remeron was increased, but the dr decreased the prozac, which I think probably didn’t help the anxiety. So today he bumped the prozac back up. The medication balance is very tricky. And frustrating.

So what do you do, dear reader, if you can’t tell if you are better or worse? I am looking for insightful ways to figure out myself.  What works for you?

p.s. here’s a great blog post. I love her language.  Three Things You Need to Know about Mental Illness.

By the way, I have decided I am vanilla bean ice cream.

Taking care of me

So, one of the things my therapist told me when I was really depressed was to try to have fun, to play. It was as if he was speaking Japanese to me, it sounded so foreign a concept. The vicious cycle of depression makes you not want to do the things that you used to enjoy. And by not doing those things, by staying in bed, or just sitting in front of the TV, you can make your depression worse. You don’t do those things you like because depression robs you of the will to do them, to your agency, and energy. That’s why depression is so horrible. It is literally a thief. Of your time. Your happy feelings. Even your will to survive.

Because of a combination of meds and therapy, my depression lifted. I feel very lucky that I was able to get through it. That I had a good support system and the tools to ask for help. I know a lot of people suffer because they can’t ask for help, for a multitude of reasons.

I still consider myself to have severe anxiety and moderate depression, even if the depression is in remission. But I am back to doing the activities I like, the ones that make me happy. From April to July I was unable to do them. Things like baking and cross-stitch. Tonight the simple act of making blueberry muffins made me feel good. And they were tasty too!

I guess I am coming to the realisation that I have to be careful. Treat myself kindly and keep doing my self-care treatments. Because after three major depressive episodes, it’s a certainty that I will have another depressive episode in my life. Likely more than one. Knowing that, maybe I will be able to recognize it earlier, and help it to be less severe.

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Anxiety and Stress

Feel like I’m cracking up with all the stress in my life right now. Trying to declutter the house in order to sell, getting painters and cleaners and going to the new already built house to oversee plumbing and electrical. First coat of paint is on in each room. It’s starting to look like a house.

But it feels like the stress may just kill me. Went back to dr to get an increase in my clonazepam. It doesn’t seem to be working yet. Still get upset at every little thing. Still so high-strung I feel like I’m about to snap. Is this the way it’s going to be then? Is this the best I can hope for? It paints a bleak picture.

The only good thing is that I haven’t continued to gain weight even though I’ve increased my meds. I’ve stayed the same weight since July. Small victories.

They are building a playground across from our new house. This would make some people happy, but I have two barky von schnauzers who aren’t exactly fond of kids playing.  Too erratic, too loud. Ha. Me and the dogs have a lot in common.

Maybe I’ll have to get on valium or something. I just want to not be so upset and irritable all the time. I don’t think I’m very pleasant to be around.

How to deal with anxiety.

TAKE your meds.

Geez.

You’d think I would have this figured out by now, but somehow my brain is hardwired to think I don’t need these pills.  I’ll be fine if I just take deep breaths, focus on a non-moving point, centre myself, use mindfulness, etc…

Guess what? Sometimes anxiety can’t be willed away.  Sometimes you have to rely on your medications.

Clonazepam

Clonazepam

I’m just learning this.  I went to the psychiatrist yesterday, and he upped my anxiety meds.  I had only been taking 0.5 of the clonazepam, but now I am going to take that dose twice a day.  That is not a large dose apparently, but just might be enough to keep me from having my panic attacks.  Now that selling our house and moving is becoming a looming reality, my anxiety is through the roof and I’m having un-precipitated attacks.  They were definitely getting worse.

You know those “keep calm” posters you always see? I need one that says “Keep calm and take your meds”!

Keep Calm and Take Your Meds

Keep Calm and Take Your Meds

Retreat

Took the past week and went to one of the national parks for some r&r and time away from daily stressors, stressful family and loud noises. I just wanted me, the nature and the quiet. I called it my “writing retreat” in hopes that I would get some thesis work done too. It’s been so long since I got quality time to do good work. I thought if I called it a writing retreat, it just might inspire me to write.
It worked! I have chapters 1 and 2 edited now, and am working on chapter 3.

It’s really scary for me to write for some reason. I used to be a good writer, and could pump out a term paper no problem. I guess now, it’s different. This is, by far, the biggest chunk of writing I’ve tackled. And I have all the fears of failing, haunting me. And I had to apply for an extension to my doctoral program. I applied on medical grounds, and I have a good letter from my physician, but I’m still scared they will deny me, based on “no regress made”. I had a rough year. Do I expect it to get better? Yes? Has it already? Yes. God, I really hope I get the extension.

Anyway, my week retreat is almost up. I’ve loved it here in the woods and I’m hoping to do it again by myself, in August.

Here’s one of the friends I made. 

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Sad

Meds update. I’ve been on remeron for 5 weeks now. I see a big difference. I am able to do work again. The crying spells have lifted almost completely. I still have what I call “blue funks” (my own combination of anger/irritability/sadness) but not as frequently. I still have general anxiety daily so I’m continuing on with the clonazepam on a low dose. The addition of remeron was making me quite sleepy with the prozac and clonazepam, so the psychiatrist lowered the prozac dose by 20 mgs. Since the prozac has a long half-life in your system I’m only starting to see a difference now in regards to sleeping, after a week. I’m taking fewer naps and I’m getting a full 8 hours of solid sleep each night. Granted I have bizarre dreams, but it’s a side-effect that is not a deal breaker. Oh,  and I’ve put on 10 lbs. I’m trying to exercise more to combat the weight gain that remeron can (and has) caused. Also because exercise is “good” for me. Blah.

But what I really want to write about is that my therapy with M has ended. I’m pretty upset about it. Two weeks ago he told me that he had done all he could for me, that we have used all the resources available to us and that it was up to me to do the work, outside of sessions. It really came out of left field for me. Of course I didn’t expect therapy to go on forever, but I don’t think I am ready to leave the proverbial nest quite yet, either. I feel like there’s a ways for me to go yet, in terms of learning to cope with daily situations, work on my thesis, and especially in terms of my personal relationships. He thinks he’s done all he can.

I’m not sure I buy it. Maybe it’s because I don’t want the sessions to end, because I’m losing my support system. He wants me to lean on friends. I told him I didn’t have any local friends that I felt I could share my deepest feelings with, and he told me it was time to reach out, make new friends, outside of my partner and sister. I have no idea how to do that.

Maybe it’s my ego talking, but part of me wonders if he felt anything for me, beyond being just another client. Could that have been why? Or maybe he terminated sessions with me because he saw that I was starting to care too much for him. Not romantically, but as a friend, instead of a therapist. And therapists frown on that sort of thing. Maybe that’s why I feel like I was dumped.

He knows I’m upset and not ready to let go.  We talked about it for the entire session today, our last session. After our time was up, he shook my hand. He refused a hug.  It’s over.

And I’m more than a little sad and confused. He was my shoulder, and now I don’t have one anymore.

 

Baby-Bird-Learning-to-Fly1

I don’t know how I feel.

Does that make sense? I am just there. Not happy. Not terribly optimistic. But existing, sometimes peacefully, at moments. Then there are times when the agitation comes back. I just want to scream! Everyone’s voice grates me. The dogs’ barking goes right through me. I don’t want to answer the phone or read a book. Or do anything.

So I go through the motions, get up,  drink coffee, force down breakfast and my iron pill. Take my meds. I might sit there for awhile, read news online, check Facebook. As often as not, I go back to bed. The new med is making me quite sleepy. I need at least 9 hours sleep. And often, a nap for at least an hour in the afternoon. Seems like a lot, and it gets me down. I keep thinking what a waste of time sleep is. And how if I was at a full-time job, how would I manage?

Tomorrow marks 3 weeks on the remeron. I am definitely more sedate in a general sense. Especially if I take my clonazepam, which I’m supposed to do, but I still struggle with, because then I feel especially stoned. It works for the general anxiety, but the cost is great. I am definitely more foggy when I take it.

I have had more than a few good moments in the past two weeks, so there is reason to be optimistic. My partner and I went camping for a long weekend and it was a lot of fun. Sunny and warm where we went. I am feeling blue again now, as we are back to the grey, foggy city. Sometimes I really hate living here. It’s just so dark, rain,  drizzle and fog. For days on end. It really gets to me.

Anyway, I see my new psychiatrist again tomorrow. I will tell him about the increased sleep and see what he says. It’s really going much better than before, even though I don’t feel well today. Maybe there is something to keep me more alert, or maybe he will reduce the prozac.

Made a little progress on a chapter for my thesis. I feel a bit like it’s pulling teeth. And my motivation is still lacking.

I know depression doesn’t go away fully. I am trying to learn a bit about mindfulness. Maybe if I can learn how to practice it, it will help. Meanwhile, if you could say a little prayer, or send a good healing vibe for me, I sure would appreciate it. I need all the help I can get.

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My dogs in the trailer, looking cute.