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~

To Do List:

We all have our days where it’s one foot in front of the other… simple tasks are hard, harder tasks are unthinkable and even enjoyable (usually enjoyable) things feel like work. I hate lists… I get overwhelmed by them, but I figure for today, why not. This is what my “list” usually entails (in literally no order at all):

  1. Coffee … or tea … caffeine.
  2. Make cigarettes
  3. Take Meds
  4. Check social media
  5. Play Clash Royale
  6. Play fishy game (like Candy Crush but I like it more)
  7. Play search and find game
  8. Eat
  9. Shower
  10. Clean anything
  11. Drink enough water (near a gallon)
  12. Check the cat has food and water
  13. Take nap
  14. Go to bed

What my day really looks like lately:

2, 13, 1, 12, 2, 5, 4, 3, 5, 11, 3, 8, 3, 14.

I have no interest in half my games, not even Ingress right now because it’s been so hard for me to get together with my friends. Eating happens because C is a chef so, food happens. I’m just kinda blowing off most of everything still. It’s not intentional, it’s just that my motivation level drops significantly under stress or during depressive episodes. I want to do all the other stuff, or rather, I want to want to do the rest of it.  I’m out of spoons, I’m out of sporks, I’m just out.

So there’s me for the moment… how’s your list looking?

~Brutally Honest Eccentric~

Worse than I think I am…

It’s strange when my actions don’t really match what I think my emotions are. I have been off lately and I’ve been trying to figure it out. I haven’t been up for talking to most people, especially not one on one. Conversations about myself are still down to “How are you doing?” “Oh, I’m okay.” We all know I’m not but I’m okay enough to get away with it.

I can’t get away with it at therapy though. I don’t remember if I gave him a “name” or not, but for today, we shall call him Jim. Jim doesn’t let me get away with “I’m okay.” It’s pretty much his job to call me out on that. So, I started going through the fact that hygiene is getting more difficult to handle again and I’m losing interest in most of my games and my shows that I usually love. It hits me. These are signs of depression.

Some of this stems from being so sick as a side effect of my body getting used to a medication again. A lot, actually, because besides ‘feeling sick’ – I’m also isolated right now because leaving the house for more than an hour or two makes me even more sick the following day. I can’t change this. I need the medication for now until we can at least discuss other options. I need tests done for that. I am working on it all the best I can…

However, I’m still more depressed than I thought I was. This doesn’t usually happen to me. I’m usually much more self aware, much more able to gauge my own emotions. Being sick for a month will screw with your perception of everything though, I think, including yourself.  I am safe, I am not in danger of any type of harm to self or others, I’m just not quite emotionally available to people right now. Not as much as usual.

I will drink my peppermint tea (which I am so tired of but it helps), and I will snuggle with the cat. I will find new games to play for now for distraction and new shows to hold my attention until I’m more myself again. There’s just a lot of stress and sadness and grief in my life recently and I need to take time to process it.

I hope if you find yourself in a similar position, see signs of depression in yourself before you really “feel” them, that you give yourself permission for self care. Don’t just wait for it to get worse, do whatever you can to stay even or move forward, so when it passes, you’re ready to keep going in life.

~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~

Pain, compassion, and frustration

As I sat here contemplating a DIY lobotomy, trying to figure out whether or not to take the pain medication I was prescribed, I realized I had therapy in a couple of hours. I, then, tried to decide whether it was better to go in severe pain as it coursed through my head like a pulsating rod from behind my right eye into the base of my skull, or go while I was loopy and entertained, but definitely not in a position to absorb information. I called to cancel last minute. Well, it was still a couple hours off but I do not like to cancel at all, especially the day of.

For me, creating a doctor’s appointment is creating an obligation and I try so hard to keep all of my obligations regardless of my mental and physical states. I try to make the necessary phone calls, show up at the necessary times. I try to drink enough water, to take my medication, to eat. I try to go grocery shopping through depression or anxiety because I do not think it’s fair to let my disabilities take away my ability to at least try to function on some level.

Days like today frustrate me. There was little I could do, I was not going to be able to function at the mental level needed for an effective therapy appointment. I could have wasted both of our times, but why? My neurology appointment is still a couple of weeks out and, as I am not having any ocular auras (and my kidney function labs were redone and fine), I have not gone to the hospital. This does mean that we are treating my intracranial hypertension (high brain pressure, there is an issue with my cerebro-spinal fluid) with pain management as long as it’s not affecting my sight. I honestly thought I could keep it from affecting my other obligations.

Obviously, I was wrong. The medication has worn off and although I can still feel pain, it’s a pain I can tolerate and maintain some function through. Six years ago, before this was ever an issue, it’s a pain I would have taken OTC painkillers for and whined about on the couch until it dissipated. Our pain tolerance changes with our life.

The same is true of emotional pain. What we could not handle ten years ago may be something we can cope with now, or due to manifesting disorders, or even simply new stressful situations coinciding with it, we may not be able to cope with them as well. All of this varies with time, situations and especially from person to person. While I would not expect a random stranger to be able to cope with this headache pain easily, this stranger may have already experienced worse pain and be prepared to handle it. It is as likely they have not, and it would temporarily incapacitate them until relief came. For all I know, you are experiencing the same level of pain right now.

Maybe I pass you in a parking lot, smile, nod, say “Good morning” and you reply with the same smile and greeting. Perhaps both of us are hiding immense pain behind that smile. Perhaps neither of us are. Maybe that cranky old man in line in front of you simply has his arthritis acting up and what you see is him coping with his pain. Not fair to the guy behind the register, maybe, but then the pain we experience isn’t fair either.

Over and over I see memes regarding not knowing the pain another is hiding or their struggles and it feels so cliche to write it, but at the same time, I have been in so much pain lately … Maybe you see me stare off during a conversation, you think I’m not listening, that I am ignoring you, but maybe it just hurts less if I let my eyes unfocus for a bit, maybe you’re sitting under a bright light and I just can’t bring myself to say, “Could you switch seats?” because I’m tired of my pain affecting me and I don’t want it to affect you.

All I really want to ask is for the benefit of the doubt, not just for me but for anyone you may encounter in your travels. You know my pain because I put it here on the screen. Not everyone is so visible with theirs. In this day and age of zero fucks given, I’m just asking that maybe you save one to give.

~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.

If we expected it, it wouldn’t be “the unexpected.”

It has been a few days since I’ve really felt able to string sentences together into coherent paragraphs. I am not sure I am really even there yet, but since this is part of being me, I figured “fuck it, let’s try.” It’s near 4:15am which is a normal time for me to be awake, or was, but my sleeping has decided that stress is now in charge of its schedule. My ideas on when I want to be awake or try to sleep have absolutely no standing.

Along with waiting for my Neurology appointment (which is about a month from now) for the brain pressure thing, I had my lithium changed because the medication I had been on affected the levels, so coming off it did as well. My psychiatrist is amazingly thorough and although it feels obnoxious to go through, he orders the necessary blood work to go along with my medication level tests. This means fasting – which SUCKS as a caffeine addict. It means that every time I need my lithium checked, I invariably need to plan for the withdrawal headache and thus need to plan my test for a time I can get there without worrying about spending extra hours in pain.

Usually there’s nothing of concern in the tests, so, honestly, I don’t expect phone calls first thing in the morning the day after my test from my psychiatrist’s office. Yesterday they called. Apparently one of the levels is high in the metabolic panel he did. If you take meds, you know some of them are going to strain your system, especially over time which is why these tests are so important. This particular test indicates my kidneys may not be happy with me.

I take over half a dozen different medications a day. The questions of how it might affect me in the long run have always been in the back of my mind but this is the first time they’re front and center. I had the results sent to my primary care doctor and I’m waiting on them to give me a call and let me know how we’re moving forward. I probably need another blood test. Not looking forward to another caffeine withdrawal morning but it’s worth it to find out what’s going on.

So, I have lots of questions and not enough information for answers yet. My mind and body gang up on me to respond to this with full on anxiety for hours while I’m awake and needing to go to sleep with no notice. I’d already started this when I knew I was getting pressure headaches again, the whole hyper-alert and passing out game is just now more insistent on my cooperation.

I think that’s something many people don’t always associate with anxiety, they think it’s intentional avoidance of issues or tasks. Sometimes, I don’t actually WANT to take a nap, I really want to try to get things done, especially when they freak me out. However, if I get overwhelmed, sometimes my eyes just start to close. I could down a full cup of coffee and still just pass out like I haven’t slept in days even if I only woke a couple hours before. It’s a defense mechanism, I think, my body trying to keep my mind safe, but it’s really frustrating when you need to take care of something even if it scares you.

For the past few days, I’ve been oscillating between the hyper-aware and passing out, so it hasn’t left me a lot of time to really focus on any one thing for long. Even just writing this has taken what feels like forever because my eyelids are starting to pull themselves down. People say ‘Expect the unexpected’ but we never can, we just have to hope that we’re prepared to cope with whatever the unexpected might be. I’ll work on figuring my new one out. I hope you continue to find ways to cope with yours.

~Brutally Honest Eccentric~

p.s. I don’t need or want “natural” remedy ideas for my illnesses. If I need to come off of medications, I will discuss all options with my doctors. If homeopathy worked for everything I had, I wouldn’t have gone back on medication a dozen years ago. I appreciate the efforts of people that try to offer these solutions but they are not for me.