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~

My anxiety is loud.

In a group I belong to someone shared a picture saying “My anxiety is quiet” – it went on to say that others wouldn’t see an outward change. That they are not lazy, just overwhelmed. I understand this. Sometimes, my anxiety is quiet…

However, most times – my anxiety is SCREAMING loud.

My initial reply was, “my anxiety is loud… sometimes in volume and sometimes in action – i cry sometimes. i say ‘i can do this’ repeatedly under my breath until i can really do it, i get overwhelmed and pass out, i get about two minutes warning on that, my eyes start closing, nothing i can do will stop it. i stare off into space… stop talking… words trail off… when i shake my head and see again, it starts over… i organize ideas and shift them, i talk about what i’m going to do and how terrifying it is in hopes that someone else knowing will make it less scary… i have other people dial the phone or even just hit the call button…. i can’t even make myself make coffee some mornings… not because i’m lazy but because i’m afraid i’ll screw it up… my anxiety is so loud.”

But there’s more, isn’t there…

Sometimes i’m doubled over in pain from my chest. Sometimes I overheat until I get nauseous. My anxiety clouds my judgment. It forces me to forget things I am afraid of trying to protect myself instinctively. I lay awake for hours trying to quiet the fear that something horrible is about to happen.

My anxiety is deafening. So much so that I cannot always even hear people speaking to me. I become oblivious to what is around me because I’m so focused I can’t see it… or because I’m so hyper-vigilant in my fear that I see all of it. I fidget endlessly, or I’m stuck unable to move.

I see so many things that say “anxiety is… ” or “depression is” or “having anxiety and depression is…” but let me be really clear a moment. The only completion to any of those is “personal”. They affect us all differently. Knowing one person’s symptoms does not mean you understand everyone’s.

My anxiety is loud. What is yours?

~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~

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.

Semicolons, suicide and solidarity

Out of the group of very supportive women I mentioned yesterday, there is one more. Diana* has been one of the most helpful both online and playing in person. She and her husband drive me to game gatherings often and I am grateful for it. Yesterday morning, she said that Amy, founder of the Semicolon Movement took her own life. She went on to say how it made her feel and asked me what I thought it meant for this or future movements.

We have a woman that created a suicide prevention and awareness movement with a grammatical concept. It’s based on the idea that a semicolon is where an author could have ended a sentence and chose not to; as authors of our own lives, our story is not over yet. This idea has brought people comfort, support, solidarity with others that struggle. It has brought people together, helped people show support when they did not know how. Amy’s passing leaves a lot of people with many different emotions. Sadness, helplessness, frustration and even anger.

None of these feelings are wrong. However you feel about Amy’s passing is valid. I do want people to understand, though, that her passing does not diminish the meaning behind the Semicolon Movement. It does not negate what the movement stands for. It does not take away the meaning of the tattoos and pictures that you see or that you have or that you created as a part of this.

I’m going to plagiarize myself a moment, some of this I wrote in a status yesterday on facebook. Amy did not end her story when she initially considered it. She continued on to write further chapters and to help many people in the process. Her story is over now and that is extremely sad, but she had those extra chapters. You still are the author of your own story and you still have chapters to write and her death does not change this.

One of my friends said, “what it says for the movement is that we need to keep moving on and supporting each other” and I know that she didn’t mean it the way I read it – however, I felt like she was saying that because of this one woman’s death we need to keep supporting each other. I know her better than this, however, responding emotionally, I said “i have a much different take on it in my mind because the death of one woman isn’t what means we need to keep pressing forward – the deaths of all of those we lost to suicide is why we need to press forward.” I stand by what I said, though.

I went on later to say “it is very sad and we do need to keep up every effort for suicide awareness and prevention but please know that it’s sad EVERY time… we can’t just think it’s sad when it’s a public figure. that won’t help anyone.” I stand by this, too. We have become a society that focuses on individuals rather than issues. When Robin Williams died there was an outpouring of support from and for the mental health community. When that boy in the hospital got the attention from the person behind the voice of Pinkie Pie from My Little Pony, there were pictures plastered on facebook of the pink pony and places where tattoo artists would donate proceeds from a tattoo of the character to help those suffering from bullying. I can not remember the last time I have seen anyone post a picture of Pinkie Pie, nor even talk of Robin Williams’ mental health.

When people stop thinking about the public figure that brought awareness to an issue, many times they also stop thinking about the issue. I hope that people who see others with semicolons continue to show support and increase awareness about suicide and suicide prevention. I hope that this movement does not fade out. Honestly, I was never enamored with it. I don’t have a semicolon tattoo, nor do I have any desire to get one. I respect those that do, though. I hope that people continue to show up for those that need the support and don’t let this movement or this issue fade to the back of their minds.

Amy’s death does not negate the good that she did in her life. Succumbing to her depression does not negate the awareness she brought to the world. There are so many reasons that people take their own lives, and honestly, part of what this does is show that even those that are trying so hard to create awareness, they are not immune. They need support as well… and honestly, sometimes even with all of the support one can handle, things can still take a turn. Please don’t let her death stain your view of suicide prevention efforts of this movement or any future ones. Please, find the people you know need support and just be there for them, not just today, but every chance you get forever… because mental health doesn’t fix itself in a day or a year. For many of us, it is lifelong and that is how long I hope you continue to be aware of and support those that struggle with suicidal thoughts and self harm.

~Brutally Honest Eccentric~

*Name changed because I forgot if I can use her real one.

Image: My friend Chloe’s gorgeous tattoo from just as she got it finished.