Drawing a blank…

It’s the anxiety again, I know it is. I have too much to do and not enough whatever i’m missing to do it. I can only handle a couple things today, meaning only a couple things CAN be handled on any given weekday morning. I, however, also have running in my head all of the things I can’t do anything about until the day they happen.

I need to make phone calls, I need to make appointments. I also have a road trip coming up to handle some things this weekend but I can do anything about that til this weekend. I also have an appointment September 7th that I can’t do anything about really until then.

These extra things weighing on my mind are making it feel impossible to do the phone call things. I stop everything I’m doing. I look at the phone. I stare blankly at it and either go back to the computer or open a game because I start to get so anxious I can’t think at all. “Do you need help making these phone calls?” Yes, yes I do… but I don’t think it’s help that anyone can give me from afar.

So I figured I’d write a blog post, and maybe getting some of this out of my head would make me more capable of handling it. I opened the page and my first thought was “Oh god, I have nothing to write about.” Hence the title.

The reality is that the thoughts come so fast that they’re gone before I can get them all out and I’m typing as fast as I can but I still can’t catch them. “Do I have to make those calls today?” “Can it wait til tomorrow?” “What am I going to do for hours in the car?” “Why do I have to keep switching doctors?” “Why do I have so many doctors?” “When did I finish my coffee?” These are random ones I tried to pull out of the mess up there, they took so long to type, I skipped over the thirty others that came and went…

I just stopped. Stared at my hands. Wondered what to finish this with. Again… Drawing a blank.

Be kind to yourself. Let whatever you do today be enough. Enjoy the eclipse if that’s in your itinerary today… Tomorrow’s another day. We can try again.

~Brutally honest Eccentric~

I have no excuses…

Well, I have plenty of excuses but what would be the point? It’s been over a week again. I kept saying, “I’ll write tomorrow.” Tomorrow is a fictional time that never comes.

I have to make a lot of phone calls Monday and it’s scaring me because I don’t do these types of calls well – initial appointments, billing and insurance issues. I’m truly terrified. A lot of us talk about phone-phobia and I don’t have it as bad as I used to, but there are certain times it “flares” up.

I self sabotage. That’s why I’m awake. Bed time is 6:30pm and it’s three hours past and I’m wide awake. This is something my mind does when I fear tomorrow. I don’t have control. I took my ‘as needed’ medication and it’s not enough to calm me for this. This happens so I’m stuck in a state of overtired and barely functional the next day. Even if that happens, these calls are necessary.

Some of you reading this are thinking “Just call them, it’s not that hard.” Some of you know that for many of us, it’s really that hard. It’s paralyzing. It’s “crying on the floor in the kitchen until your sister dials the phone for you” hard sometimes. Love you, sis, more than you know sometimes.

I didn’t do the things I had to do last week, so I am trying to phrase this as “need to do Monday” rather than tomorrow, because tomorrow never came last week, and I can’t afford to let that happen again. I need to hold myself accountable. I want to do this, even though I totally don’t want to do this…

So here’s the deal… I will post again when my calls are finished. If you have something you need to do but are putting off, feel free to comment here, and when we get to the next post, we can congratulate each other on completing our necessary tasks. Things like showering, going to the doctor, cleaning the kitchen, calling your mom… anything counts. Wish me luck, and I wish you luck as well.

~Brutally Honest Eccentric~

 

Obsession and Procrastination

So my insurance has been switching. Can we just talk a moment about how hard it can be to get the help you need? I’m still waiting on one of the tests needed for my brain pressure but I have to clear up the billing from the MRI. I have to talk to my Neuro about billing… I need to “give prescriptions” to my new insurance company from a doctor I don’t even see anymore. Thinking about all of this gives me panic attacks…

So why am I forcing myself to write it? Because it gets it out of my head. It puts it somewhere different. This is a way to see what I’m handling without obsessing because I know if I put it aside for a moment, this will be here to remind me.

I have subconscious selective memory. I think many of us with anxiety do. When we’re afraid of doing something, we either obsess, or we shove it so far back that by the time we think of it, it’s probably too late to do anything. I don’t mean to do this. I don’t WANT to do this, but I know that I do it.

I wish others understood that it wasn’t intentional. I think sometimes those close to me forget that my brain doesn’t work the way theirs does. I think sometimes they don’t realize that maybe my brain works precisely as theirs does. Relating to people can be hard.

I still don’t have a new psychiatrist. I still don’t have an appointment with the neuro-ophthalmologist that I want to see. I still need to take a shower. I need to do all of these random things and it’s 11:30 at night… not really a time to do any of them.

What is one thing that you have been putting off that you can try to do this week?

~Brutally Honest Eccentric~

Life after Neurology, or during it

I may have underestimated how much I have going on in my life currently. I said I would be back after my crash, but then Monday I had my neurology appointment and Tuesday was therapy, so they each came with their own downtime. ¬†We’ll get back to my Sunday and my crashiness another time. Right now my high brain pressure is what’s overtaking my thoughts, so I’m going to go there for a bit. My neurologist, Dr. J., is consulting with another doctor, Dr. M, who I may be seeing as well to get his thoughts on my condition and my treatment issues.

I have to, at least temporarily, restart the medication that kills my sex drive as we don’t want this to worsen while we work on finding a treatment plan. The reality is I may have to continue with that medication the rest of my life. Not something I consider with any sort of happiness, but the reality is that between my vision or my sex drive, I would rather keep (both, but if not…) my vision. So, back on the pills I go, and immediately notice another side effect that I hadn’t realized. Yay. Trading pain for misery and pain isn’t high on my list of things to do, but we do what we have to in life.

Dr. M is a neuro-opthalmologist, so basically brain/eye issues, he works mainly across the river but has office hours on this side. I didn’t know whether or not there were any neuro-ops on this side, honestly, which was why I went to the Dr. J in the first place. He works at the same practice as the man that diagnosed me five years go – the one that retired… If you’re looking for a specialized specialist, it feels prudent to get the referral from someone else in the same field.

Explaining my problem to Dr. J. I broke down crying three times, maybe more… it’s a good thing they keep tissues on the desk. I was trying to explain the difficulties in making it to appointments across the river, the fact that although I have gotten past a lot of my agoraphobic issues, I can’t travel alone to the city yet, the difficulties with the side effects, how terrified i was that this was still happening…

I had to stop myself and just explain that I’ve been having a really rough month, that although IIH was plenty reason to be upset, I’m usually more composed in these situations. He’s a nice doctor, he just nodded and said “Well we get through it, right?” Right. So apparently, for my condition there are medication treatments (the other easy one of which I’d already been on for psych reasons and had an adverse reaction), there is putting in a shunt – which is actual brain surgery, and there is a type of eye surgery that I do not know much about nor do I know if that’s even a possibility for me. These are why I need to see Dr. M. … after I get brain scans and follow up with Dr. J.

I am scared. Often IIH (idiopathic intracranial hypertension) will resolve itself. In many patients, it does. For some of us, it doesn’t and then they try harder to find out why – is it a medication, is it something else? We don’t know. So right now my brain is acting like there is a tumor in it, even though there is not (hence the other name for it – pseudotumor cerebri). I am scared… That kind of scared where you just want to curl up in a ball and cry. But I won’t, not yet. I have too many other things to handle. Medications, finding a psychiatrist, discussing blood tests with my GP, grieving the loss of a friend, trying not to isolate myself even though I want nothing to do with people.

I may be preoccupied with my health lately, and my own life situations, but I feel like I have enough going on that it’s a valid way to react. I am used to putting myself aside for others and right now I can’t. The situations going on could land me in the hospital if I’m not careful so I need to put myself first. If others can’t see how this is a healthy way to cope, that’s just not my problem. Luckily, most of my friends, if I don’t respond to their messages, understand that I see and hear them, I just can’t invest myself right now. I have really good, very supportive friends. I am lucky in that while my health may be a problem, my support network is part of my solution.

~Brutally Honest Eccentric~

Invalidation.

Yesterday, I was told that I don’t care about anyone but myself. This wasn’t by some random acquaintance or anonymous internet troll. I got told this by my mother. Last week we got into an argument, yesterday after a week of not speaking, same argument. She was telling me how to handle my doctors. I was telling her that I had it handled.

Any of you with chronic mental illness or chronic pain, you know the multitude of appointments it comes with. You know that sometimes you need to change treatment plans or doctors. I need to change psychiatrists and I am also going to a neurologist on Monday to work on a treatment plan, if possible, for my brain pressure that causes migraines. I’ve had all of this going on for weeks to months. The psychiatric issue has been half handled, the neurology is scheduled. Somehow I was being told that I’m not handling it correctly, that I’m not listening and that – and this one gets me good – I’m going to the wrong doctor for my brain. The reason that last one gets me is that she’s known about this appointment for six weeks.

Sometimes, yes, I do ask for help when it comes to where to go when I am unable to do it myself. This time, however, I had a plan. I had appointments. I hadn’t asked for anything. For some reason, this plan that my mother had been made aware of weeks earlier was not good enough.

This has happened before about a lot of things in life. It’s probably happened to you as well. You make a decision and people support you and back it and then they change their mind. Maybe it’s about a job and your best friend doesn’t think you should quit even though you already put in your notice. Maybe it’s about a guy and your dad doesn’t approve when you get engaged… Whatever it is, all of the sudden it’s as if your choices aren’t good enough. Obviously, being treated this way is going to create disagreements.

Sometimes the change of heart is because of something that is happening or has happened in the other person’s life. It’s okay to change your mind and change your views. It’s not okay to invalidate someone else’s choices because you change your mind though. It’s not fair to either of you. If you want them to hear you, you may need to hear them too.

I work hard to advocate for myself. I work hard to advocate for others. I am assertive when it comes to anyone’s healthcare. I want us to find the professionals we need to get the treatments that are necessary. I have also spent the better part of seven years running peer support on facebook. I have stayed with family to help care for them when they were unable. I have acted as extreme emotional support for people who have been unable to get it professionally. I have shown up on the doorstep of a suicidal friend so they would not be alone. I do these things partly because I can, I have the knowledge and capacity. I do them because it helps me cope with not working. I do them because I love.

So, now, I’ve been treated like I can’t deal with my own medical treatment and told I don’t care about anyone but myself. Honestly, I have been in pain for over a month almost daily. My medication was incorrect due to a differing opinion with a doctor, and a friend of mine has passed away. I don’t really have the emotional capacity to handle the problems of others that I usually do. This doesn’t mean that I don’t care. It simply means that I need to practice self care right now and have boundaries.

I draw the line at anyone invalidating my choices in life, my choices in healthcare and my opinions on how our interactions are going. Why am I telling all of you this? Because people WILL invalidate you in life, and I want you to see that it’s okay to stop letting them. This is me trying to explain to you that it is okay to make your own choices and your decisions ARE good enough.

~Brutally Honest Eccentric~

Risk/Benefit/Big Pharma and Me

I understand that there are people that are afraid of medications. I understand that there are people that fully believe that ‘Big Pharma‘ is only out to get our money and we don’t matter. It’s hard to know how expensive medications are and still accept that we may need them.

I was diagnosed at 16 and put on Zoloft. All I really remember is it made me feel weird and I wasn’t ready to accept that I would need medications for the rest of my life. I took myself off of it, stopped seeing the doctor that I couldn’t open up to anyway. I avoided medications and psychiatrists for the next eight years. I was totally displaying symptoms of bipolar, there was never a doubt in my mind, my family’s minds, my significant others… I didn’t want to be dependent on anything to function or for my sanity.

I managed to cope with things until one day I just sort of lost the ability to cope with anything. It started with a two hour crying spell at work over nothing, and continued with daily crying spells or anxiety attacks that made it impossible to finish an entire shift at work. I gave in and called the therapist I saw in high school to get a referral for one that worked with adults. I saw a psychiatrist that was covered by my insurance. My new psychologist was wonderful… the psychiatrist, not so much.

She prescribed a few different antidepressants, she didn’t put me on a mood stabilizer despite my family history and earlier diagnosis of bipolar. She didn’t comprehend everything I was trying to convey about my moods. I had bad side effects and no effects and finally when I had an allergic reaction, her response was telling me I needed to go inpatient. I tell you this to acknowledge there ARE some bad doctors.

The referral I got from my new therapist saw me the next week. He immediately put me on a mood stabilizer. He had me come in every week because I was underweight and having trouble with side effects on most medications. He did not prescribe the most recent medications. I did not end up with pens advertising the latest antidepressant from visiting the office. He changed things based on what I said and felt, not just what the majority of people presented with. I was the focus, not just my diagnoses.

I have been suicidal. I have attempted to take my own life. I have gone manic and spent every dime in my bank account on sex toys instead of bills. These things did not happen when I was on certain medications. I could list them but they work differently for everyone and I’m not endorsing them individually. I fully believe that being on these medications is what keeps me alive.

Pharmaceutical companies make more than psychiatric medications. They make heart medications and blood pressure and pain medication. They make allergy medication, insulin, vaccines and medications to fight infections and disease. Why, then, do we get so afraid and cynical about psych meds? Honestly, I believe it is because it is a trial and error thing, because some can make me worse, some can make me feel like a zombie and if I had stayed with that “bad” psychiatrist I saw, I think I might believe that medication wasn’t the answer. I found a doctor that believed I could be better and because of that we found medications that made me more functional, able to laugh yet still cry, discarded any zombifying medication, and got to the point that my mother told me to thank him for giving her her daughter back.

Medication is not for everyone but if you can’t function or are having trouble functioning beyond what therapy can do for you, I hope you at least consider meds. I won’t pretend the process of finding the right medication is easy but I do promise that if you find medications that work, the rewards are priceless. We can survive, or we can live. Sometimes medication can make that difference. They have and are making it for me.

~Brutally Honest Eccentric~

**I’m not any sort of doctor, this is not to take the place of medical advice. If anything, this is a plea to seek medical advice. And yes, I understand some people are medication resistant and this is not an option for them.

**Medication in picture is what I was on five years ago – not on the same set anymore. As I said, it’s trial and error, and that means changing them out as needed.