Really, it wasn’t that much

So, we got robbed. In that brief window of time on Thursdays when I leave for therapy but David is still at work, they got in. The nice thing about developing severe agoraphobia is that I’m always home to keep things safe.
Except when I’m not!
The dogs were here but unhurt. Their behavior today is overly alert and defensive so I am pretty sure that whoever it was that came in probably scared them pretty bad. That makes me sad, but again, they are safe and unhurt and that is truly the thing that is important.
The thieves got my laptop, the PS2 (dammit! i finally broke down and bought a video game system for the first time ever and we only had it for 12 weeks!), David’s electric guitar, our meds and a pearl and coral necklace my grandfather made for me (this makes me sad). It sucks that I lost my laptop, it really sucks. Luckily the drive had been backed up in January so I haven’t lost too much.
I had a goodly long cry and felt sorry for myself for a bit. It all just seems so unfair, why can’t unfair things happen in my favor.
But that’s the thing, they DO! Unfair things happen in my favor all the time. I’m an insanely lucky person. For as much as i complain about my financial situation or my crappy insurance, my tenuous grasp on mental health or the painful corn I developed on my toe, there are a million things that are absolute blessings in my life.
I watched a documentary last weekend about orphans in Uganda. As I watched it i realized that my dogs, my DOGS had better access to nutritious food, clean water and healthcare than most people in the world had. My dogs live better than many people. If i can provide, and I mean provide, this sort of life to my dogs when so many others are starving, then I’m not really in a position to cry ‘UNFAIR’ for losing stuff that exists only to entertain me. I want my stuff back, yes, and i wish they hadn’t taken it, but I recognize also that I’m going to be just fine. I just ate dinner, my belly is full, I made a grocery list for tomorrow because I can afford to buy food, I might take a bubble bath later because I have SO MUCH clean water that I can fill a tub with it and use it for fun not critical hydration.
I am sad and upset that someone came into my home and took things that were important to me, this is true. But also I am grateful that I was in a position to have those things and that most things can be replaced. I cannot replace the necklace from my grandfather, and that does hurt my heart a little. I did not wear it often, but it meant a lot to me that he made it for me.
So, we will move on, David, the dogs and I. We will find replacements and continue on through this life and it will become a small footnote in this chapter.
On an unrelated note, the Ben and Jerry’s flavor ‘Bonnaroo Buzz’ sucks Bonnaroo balls! The only way I can describe it is a sticky, sweet, one-note mess. Terrible, bad-day comfort ice cream! (and there, again, it’s hard to complain too seriously about losing anything when I can buy $3.50 ice cream and complain about it!).
Go, back up your hard drives! Copy your email address books! Hug your loved ones! And be safe.

Fat is the new Gay

Recently I’ve been involved in or witnessed a number of debates regarding obesity. In one situation a person found a note on another person’s car. The car was legally parked in a handicapped space, the note said, “Being fat is not a handicap”. The person removed the note from the car so that the owner would not find it and face the humiliation of anonymous denigration. And so, the debate began, and within that debate the fat hate rolled fast and furious.
To start, I’m appalled, absolutely appalled, that someone with the most minimal of information would decide that the only reason the person had for receiving the handicapped designation was that they were fat. There could be any number of reasons for the person’s handicapped designation, many of them completely unrelated to their weight. But that’s not the point, really, it isn’t. Whatever the reason might be, it’s none of your business. How cheap is your mind that you can waste its efforts on policing handicapped designations? What an asinine conceit to believe that you are the one who gets to decide based solely on a few moments observation who does or does not deserve to park in such a spot. That you, above even the various state guidelines, should decide and these people must justify to you.
Fat bashing is an easy sport these days. While there are certainly a number of medical reasons for why a person has the extra poundage, it’s readily agreed that most people are overweight because they eat too much and exercise too little.
In the interest of full disclosure, I’m a total fatty. I’m fat because I eat more calories than I expend. I have no excuses to offer up.
Picking a group to hate on is relatively easy. One only has to find people who are different in some way and then expound on those differences. Used to be we could attack natural differences like gender or race or sexual orientation, but not so much anymore. We’ve learned (some people slower than others) that ostracizing people for differences they did not choose is pointless. But fat people are different, they made choices! Choices that the skinny people would not make.
When a fat person goes out, every pint of ice cream, every cheeseburger, every slice of pie, every milkshake, every tub of popcorn, every bad choice they’ve made is on display to the world. People can look at the fat person and see a clear history of ‘bad’ choices. And so, safe in the anonymity of their own choices, they attack. The attacks are cheap and easy, they don’t require much effort at all. They can snort in derision if the person is there or later they can play Internet Tough Guy, logging on and vomiting out everything that is wrong with all the fat people they see. And the fat people, how do they defend themselves from such attacks? Sure, a few can rightfully proclaim medical conditions, but even those protestations are often met with, “yeah? well I have a medical condition that is entirely different but decidedly worse and I’m not fat!”
For the rest of us, there is no defense. We know we’re fat, we know why we’re fat, denying it rings as hollow as the arguments for intelligent design. So we take it. We take it because there is no other choice. If we didn’t want to be mocked we shouldn’t make bad, mockable choices, right?
But that’s the thing, our choices are highly visible, you can see them. What if every one of your bad choices were laid bare to the public? What if your credit score was on the back of your shirt for everyone to see? How about the details of every one of your failed relationships? Your sexual urges? Your poor performance reviews from every job you ever had? Would you be so quick to judge and mock someone if they could see that one time in college you intentionally gave a chick too much to drink so you could fuck her with little resistance? Would you be keen to remark, “You just have to eat fewer calories than you use! I don’t see what’s so hard about that!” if someone else could say, “you just have to spend less money than you make, I don’t see what’s so hard about that!” every time you left your house?
Fat bashing is cheap and easy, it doesn’t require much thought and you know the majority of the population will back you. But what I want to know is who the fuck are you to climb on such a high horse? Sure, you can spout off all the statistics about obesity and health issues, but really, who the fuck are you? Are your bad choices any better? Or are your bad choices just less evident?
Don’t worry, if history tells us anything it’s that soon enough, your bad choices will become evident and the majority will turn on you as well.


There I was on Wednesday going 7000rpm in neutral! Crazy! There were Skittles and gas stations and possibly dancing hippos….the memory is vague. It was all very fun.
Or so it would seem.
It was also really scary. What didn’t get conveyed in that post was just how utterly freaked out I was. Sure, this week was bright and funny if a little overwhelming, but what about last week? Last week was also pretty manic, but in a really different way. Last week it was all exposed nerves and irritation and anger. I was impatient with everything, including myself. No one was fast enough, no one could shut up enough, no one could leave me alone enough. Everyone was pissing me off, I was manic, but in a really pissed off way. I also had PMS, which did not help anything and might have been contributing to the situation.
I went to my therapy appointment yesterday. I walked into the office, sat down and immediate barfed out ten thousand words. Mere mortals need things like ‘time’ so that they can spread out the things they are doing. They like it when things happen in some sort of order: first I open my mouth, then sound comes out, I control the sound and form words, the words form sentences and the listener forms judgments. But I am not like you mere mortals! No way! I can open my mouth and let a huge rush of sound just blast into existence! YEAH!!
Or so it would seem.
I went to therapy knowing that the symptoms I was experiencing were wrong and potentially dangerous. I went in hoping she could help me contact my psychiatrist and get the ball rolling on fixing my meds. I figured I would explain everything to her and then ask her. About half way through my second paragraph she assured me that 1: this was completely fixable and 2: how about we call my psychiatrist together from her office. Holy brain balls! I didn’t even have to ask! She knew this was the thing we had to do! She’s very good that way. She took notes and had me detail all the symptoms and behaviors I’d been experiencing. She was most concerned with the paranoia, obviously. Paranoia is not me. I am not a paranoid person.
I used to work with a guy who was always convinced that even the most regular or mundane events were somehow manipulated by other people to his benefit or detriment. I mean everything. Customers weren’t just random people looking to make a purchase, they were people intentionally sent to him by the people in charge of the facility as gifts or tests or punishments depending on how the transaction played out. What struck me was how utterly sure he was that he was that important in the minds of every other person or organization on the planet.
A huge part of the reason why I am not a paranoid person is that I recognize that no one gives a shit. I don’t mean that people don’t care, my friends and family obviously care a great deal. But the rest of the world? They got their own issues to deal with. They’re not interested in giving me the best damned hamburger ever because they secretly know me and want to reward my awesomeness.
It’s kind of like why I never appreciate conspiracy theories, most people, groups and organizations are just trying to get through their day to day machinations, they don’t have time to meet in secret basements in their special robes and hats. Fuck, they probably don’t have time to design the robes, let alone get order forms out to the group, get everyone to return their form ON TIME with the check made out to Consolidated Robe Manufacturers for the correct amount. Hell, if they even tried such a thing they’d spend all their time in a committee fighting over shades of red and how much piping to have on the finished project.
I am not paranoid and I don’t buy into conspiracy theories because I know that the minute people try to start planning something, it immediately devolves into either evenings spent talking about ass or a bureaucratic nightmare of guidelines and forms.
So, my therapist has me sign a release form, then she sets me up with color pencils and paper. I draw and color and she calls my psychiatrist’s office on speakerphone so I can hear what is being discussed. I know you probably don’t see the absolute sparkly awesomeness of that sentence. I got to sit and quietly draw and color while she called the psychiatrist’s office. Amazing. She was able to quickly and efficiently describe my symptoms in a way that made way more sense than me just word-barfing about minivans and corn dogs.
They had an opening in less than an hour! Could I make it? Absolutely! My therapist printed out maps to the office and I was off.
When I got there I had to fill out the regular ‘new’ patient intake forms (yes, I’ve seen this psychiatrist before but in a different clinic. Seems this guy has offices all over the place or something, this was his Thursday office). I was reminded that there was something wrong with me because as I was filling out the basic forms, health history, prescription history, family history I found myself thinking, “well, that’s just none of your business! Why would you want to know that? What are you going to do with the info?? Huh???”
You know those people who get all defensive and suspicious of the minimum-wage-earning cashier asking for their zip code? Because matching your zip code with your purchase of 2-for-1 toothpaste and clearance rack pants is totally going to allow them to figure out that in the last election you didn’t vote for a sheriff because you forgot the ballot was double sided!!! Yeah, I was being that person. I only filled out half the questions. I figured that the form was pretty similar to the form I filled out from when I visited him in his Tuesday office and all those forms had already been faxed to the Thursday office and were in my file so it would be okay to be the crazy lady since he already had the info he needed. Sometimes it is okay to give yourself permission to be crazy so long as you know your bases are covered.
I met with Dr H and did a better job of being less word-barfy and more coherent. Of course he was also very interested in my paranoid thoughts, noting with some surprise that paranoia is way out of line with my character (everyone I talk to about the paranoia seems to agree that it’s not like me…why are they so vehemently in agreement? Are they talking to each other when I’m not around?).
There are 3 options to take in this situation. The first is to add another drug, one that would diffuse the mania. The second is to cut back on the Nortriptyline and monitor the effects. And the last one would be to scrap Nortriptyline all together and try something new. As a rule, I’m not a fan of the idea of adding new drugs to deal with the effects of the other drugs. But on the other hand, Nortriptyline has been fairly effective at alleviating the depression so I am hesitant to stop taking it. So we went with option 2, I’m scaling my dose back by half and keeping track of the effects.
(Every few minutes I have to stop typing this and explain to Chester that the people filling the pot holes in front of the house are not in violation of the sacred covenant between humans and dogs.)
When I have weird setbacks or problems like this I start to get discouraged. I want to get better, but the actions taken in order to get better are causing their own problems. What if the rest of my life is just a looooong series of problems and setbacks? What if I never get to live but only endure? I don’t know, it’s too much to think about. There is still hope. This setback was addressed pretty quickly and it was not so crazy off the wall to be totally mystifying to the professionals. That’s a good thing. Right? Yeah, definitely.
In other, not-so-crazy news, Maddie has an ear infection, Chester has declared all pothole patching people to be “of the devil” and my backyard smells of lilacs.

Just because you’re paranoid…?

The good news is that my brain is working at at 1000rpm right now! Just bam bam bam! A million things going on in my head, it’s like fireworks in there. It is a very physical feeling, it’s like being high on learning.
The bad news is that it has a name and that name is hypomania. Well, crap. It is very hard to put into words, but if my brain were an engine it’s stuck in fast idle. Everything is revving up, the throttle is wide open and OH MY HOLY CRAP THE WORLD IS SHITTING RAINBOWS INTO MY SKULL AND I’M FARTING SKITTLES.
Seriously, I’m not making that up.
I’m in a very weird position here (and not just because Skittles keep falling out of my pants). Being in this state is “productive” and “energetic” and when you are depressed you would willingly trade entire portions of your body just to be even remotely productive or energetic. You sit there in a torpid stew unable to desire to want to do anything. You read about people with OCD and you think, “oh man, I’d love that! My living room would get SO VACUUMED! It would get vacuumed so hard that it would disrupt weather systems in the antipodes. Take that, other side of the world!”
Of course anyone with OCD would gladly come and slap you repeatedly (in multiples of 3) on the back of your neck and then explain to you all the ways in which their OCD is destroying them and you would have to agree that while on the surface your predicaments seem different, the reality is that you are both being crushed by the same monsters.
So, I’m a little hypomaniacal, the head’s running fast and hard and it would seem like the thing that I had hoped for, a fresh and functioning mind, had been granted to me. There are not hidden blessings here, only sandtraps and minefields.
My mind is running fast, but it’s not focusing. I have to make a herculean effort to read one paragraph after another. Line breaks cause the mind to wander. I have to pull it back in line over and over again.
Then there’s the “psychomotor agitation“. I didn’t realize it had a name, but there it was. My body will not…can not stop moving. I am rocking constantly and have been for days. I sit crosslegged most of the time and the constant rocking motion is causing my leg muscles to ache whenever I stop. My legs are shaky and weak when I try to walk because of this constant flexing and relaxing that they are subject to. The thing is, the rocking releases the dopamine, the dopamine relieves the pain AND fires the reward centers of the brain. The smack makes the junkie sick, but the reward is so very sweet, it hurts so much to come down but if you can just get another hit you’ll be good. I rock and rock and rock and my hands move and clench and seek out focused stimulation because the nerve endings are so concentrated there and if I can stimulate them enough I’ll get more dopamine.
And of course the anxiety. Where would I be without this anxiety? Actually, I’d probably just be here like always, but less anxious.
Recently, something new and tasty has popped in to visit. Captain Paranoia has been scuttling around the edges, making some headway into life.
Last week I had headed out with a little mission. Get some cash out of the ATM, pick up Anna, go grocery shopping, make delicious food. On my way to the ATM I noticed a minivan was following me. Not only following me on the road, but going so far as to follow me into the parking lot of the gas station where I stopped to get cash. Who was this man and why the hell was he following me.
More importantly, why did I think that a vehicle that happened to pull up behind me on a busy road would be ‘following’ me? If you know the Nokomis/Powderhorn neighborhood you’ll recognize when I say that I turned right onto Cedar Ave from 42nd St and that Cedar is a pretty busy thoroughfare. You will also note that going from 42nd St to the Shell Station at 34th St is 8 blocks or 2/3 of a mile. A normal and rational person would not think twice about a car behind them on a busy street for all of 8 blocks. A normal person might note that the car behind them went into the same gas station parking lot, but a normal person would also notice that a gas station is a public place of business and that people often go to these places for the same reasons any other normal person would go there, to get cash or to get gas or to buy a soda or to check the map in the glove compartment because surely they thought they’d have reached the cemetery by now? (just a few more blocks and you’ll be there, don’t worry).
Yesterday, David and I went to the neighborhood grocery. More than once the alarms rang with, “why are they following me? seriously, why?!” This is so very very hard to describe or explain. It is so hard to find the words to describe the completely irrational, especially when you have a very rational part of your brain going, “you know, this doesn’t even make sense. Why are you thinking this?”
Why am I thinking this? There are any number of completely logical and rational explanations for why I might see the same person in a little grocery store many times. And why are people looking at me? Okay, this one is kind of legit. My hair has been pink (or blue or purple or whatever) for years now, for so long that I actually forget it’s even a thing. In the same way you know you are a blond or a brunette and never think about it, I am a pink. On the other hand, pink hair is a thing to look at. If I see someone with pink or orange or whatever hair, I look. I look because it is interesting or awesome or fun. I have eyes, I see, I look. So yeah, throw some reasoning in there and it would seem that the people casting a second glance my way are not calculating my escape velocity, they’re just going, “oh…pink…hey, corndogs are on sale…” (corndogs were on sale, we got 2 boxes!)
So what the hell, why am I talking about this? Well, firstly, because I can. My blog, my topic, neener neener, also, when I type I can’t rock, but the typing motion gets just enough agitation out to allow for another dopamine release…sweet sweet dopamine. And I haven’t slept in some days and that’ll mess up your judgment big time. Today I’m sharing the secrets of my brain, tomorrow possibly the secrets of my pants. I don’t know!! Stay tuned!
I’ve mentioned this before and I do not take this lightly. I have been afforded some measure of grace, a blessing as it were. So many people suffer under the burden of these sorts of things and are completely lost within the suffering. They cannot see out. Right now I am lucky, truly lucky, I can see out. The clarity wavers at times, and everyday there is the possibility that I will open my eyes and only see in. But right now I can see the divide and that is not a thing that most people get to see.
I also have a great many friends, probably more friends than a person like me would deserve, but I have a lot of friends. Some of them suffer or struggle to some degree as I do with these issues. I write about this so that they know they are not alone. That even Auntie BubboPants has dragons to tame.
I have friends who know people who fight this. My ability to write is not something I take lightly, it is very much a part of who I am. The fact that it has been so very hard to write anything of substance lately is quite telling. What I truly hope to accomplish in some way is to make people understand how these thought processes evolve and devolve out of control. If I had a dollar for every time someone said, “but you know it’s irrational! so why do you believe it? why does it bother you?” I’d have enough to fund an eastern European olympic basketball team AND get a Ben and Jerrys flavor of my own!
What I want to show people is that even when every bit of logic and rational thinking is crystal clear and on point, you can still go mad. That this is not a choice, this is not a matter of deciding to be sane and healthy. I can make jokes about Skittles and dragons, but also I can say that this is a struggle. This is breathtakingly overwhelming. I do not want this, I do not want any of it. I do not want to be this person any more. But I am this person and if it were as simple as not wanting it then it would have been done. I do not want to be this person, this brain is an endless friction. I do not want it.
But I do have it. It is here, it is me. I cannot choose to be sane but I can choose what I do with this bug.
Today is such a beautiful day. The crabapples and lilacs are in crazy bloom. I can still recognize the beauty and you should too. Go outside, even if it makes you sneeze, go out there and look…just look at everything…
…but, um, don’t look at me or you’ll just confirm my suspicions that people are looking at me.

Time is a One Way Street

I take the brain pills, I’ve been on various brain pills since 2006. I’ve tried a lot of brain pills with varying results. Everybody’s brain chemistry and wiring is different and the sad fact is that no one really knows what those differences are or why they occur. To find the correct antidepressant and dosage it seems that a person will have to try a few different drugs and will have to vary the dosage. So, in 2006 we started down the path of finding the right drug.
I’d taken prozac as a teenager and the results were horrid. Prozac made me sleepless and paranoid, so we knew we could take that off the list. I had also taken Nortriptyline when I was 18 and the results were all around positive. We started out with Zoloft. I felt nothing, no effect at all. We raised the dose a few times and still, nothing. So we moved on to Celexa. Celexa was awful. It made me so anxious that I was becoming physically ill at even the thought of being around other people. We decided to take SSRIs off the list completely. I had asked about the Nortriptyline, it was something that had worked. Nortriptyline is pretty old school as far as antidepressants go and the side effects can be problematic. There was a newer drug, Effexor, that also worked on inhibiting the re-uptake of norepinephrine, but with easier to monitor side effects. Thus, at the beginning of 2007 I started Effexor.
Effexor is a hell of a drug. The side effects are phenomenal, brain zaps, weird dreams, weak muscles, dry mouth, dizziness, and the most insidious, apathy. Most of the side effects waned over time and over time we continued to increase the dose until, finally, I was taking 375mg a day. That is a pretty substantial dose. It did lift me out of the very bottom of my depressive slump, it brought light to the very darkest corners of my mind. It was a life jacket tossed to me at the very last moment. I grabbed it hard and held on.
But then that was it. The Effexor was acting as a stabilizer, it was keeping my head above water but it was not getting me out of the ocean, just preventing my drowning. And though I could remain calm as I surveyed my situation, I was seeing that I was not making any progress towards getting better. We continued to raise the dose and eventually we added Welbutrin to the mix. The Welbutrin was a dopamine reuptake inhibitor as well as a norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor. The idea was that it would enhance the anti-depressive qualities of the Effexor while adding more dopamine to the mix. Dopamine works on motivation and pleasure. It’s the ‘reward’ chemical that gives you that bit of a high when you do well at something, seeking out that dopamine high is what motivates people to continue to do well. There are some strong indications that many drug addictions are linked to the seeking out of that dopamine reward.
And so we kept marching forward adding more and more Effexor and Welbutrin to the mix. Effexor is a drug that requires a very long term commitment. Dosage increases have to happen very slowly and over long periods of time. You start at the lowest dose, 37.5mg and work your way up from there. Also, it does not start affecting the norepinephrine until you get up to 225mg. It could be months before you start feeling positive effects, making it a commitment not to be taken lightly. Once I got up to 225mg and beyond I patiently waited to feel better.
A few times I asked about Nortriptyline. It had the distinction of being the only antidepressant that I had tried that had very real and noticeable results. How was it different from Effexor? Why was Effexor seen as a better choice when the results so far have been not so spectacular? Remember the side effects I mentioned before? Remember the apathy? Yeah, that never went away. The apathy was huge. It was a catch-22 of amazing proportions. I was not getting better, Effexor was not helping me, many very important things in my life were falling apart and I surveyed all of that through a barrier of disconnect.
Should I have pushed harder to switch from Effexor to Nortiptyline? That’s the $64,000 question, isn’t it? I am not a doctor, I am not a trained medical professional, I am in no way an expert on neurobiology. I am just me, a sort of a goof of a dooflerumpus trying to navigate the world with a brain that seems determined to confound me at every step. I’m not an expert, and as much as I would like to buy into or believe in that new agey ideal of “it’s your body, you know what’s best” I just can’t. It isn’t true. I’ve known far too many people who have taken that sort of logic to its worst extreme and ignored sound medical and scientific evidence to the siren song of “alternative” treatments that were nothing more than sugar and hope. Add to that a pharmaceutical industry that advertises prescription meds on prime time TV and eventually you have an army of people who base their treatment plans on 30 second sound bites and a misbegotten notion of “natural = better”.
Many years ago I went to my GP with my insomnia issue. I’d been struggling with insomnia since I was a teen (keeping in mind, of course, that when a teen suffers from insomnia the only response they get is a condescending recommendation to go to bed earlier or some such nonsense). This isn’t just “a hard time getting to sleep” this was night after night of no sleep that would last 5-7 days and then I would sleep for a night or two and then no more sleep. When I asked my doctor about this she asked me which sleeping pill I wanted to try. What? Seriously? I’m not a fucking doctor, why would I know which sleeping pill was best for me? Well, this was at a time when Ambien and Lunestra were advertising pretty heavily on TV. Since I don’t watch TV I never saw those commercials. What was instantly clear to me was that doctors were willing to prescribe medication to people who were armed with nothing more than a preference for an advertising campaign.
As a patient I have to try to strike a balance between the knowledge that I do have (Nortriptyline has worked in the past) and the professional opinion of a person who is educated in that arena (Effexor has a higher success rate and fewer side effects than Nortriptyline). Once I was on the Effexor, however, it became harder and harder to find that balance. The Effexor was not working but I was apathetic. The Welbutrin should have helped with the apathy, but did not.
Then I lost my job and that should have been a great big giant sign that said, “HOLY CRAP! THIS ISN’T WORKING!!!” in flashing red neon letters. Instead we just bumped up the Effexor and Welbutrin.
Finally, at the beginning of 2009 I had a moment of clarity. It happened in the psychiatrist’s office. She’d been playing the role a therapist for me as well as psychiatrist and she was failing at both. Her therapy method was to take my larger issues (fear of making a big mistake keeps me from doing even the simplest of tasks, like grocery shopping) tease out the overriding logic (it’s pretty difficult to make a big mistake when grocery shopping, and whatever little mistakes there might be did not make a difference at all) and then say, “well, if you know this to be logically true then why are you still having a problem?”
Yes, indeed, how on earth could I still be having a problem if the logical answer was so clearly laid out in front of me? That’s why I’m in therapy you dipwad! If I were capable of being logical about these emotional issues I wouldn’t be in this big mess. My moment of clarity involved some yelling and some crying and an unfocused sense of determination. I stopped my sessions with her (which was inevitable anyway, I didn’t have insurance and the bills were piling up fast), I wrote a letter to the clinic describing my issues (which I’m sure just got pitched into the crazy lady bin) and I started weaning myself off the Effexor.
The next thing we know it’s September and things had gone all to hell. Time continued its relentless march, December happened and things got ugly. Finally, I got in to see a new psychiatrist. First we talked about what was happening in my head, we talked about my symptoms and my concerns. David came in as well to give his insight into the situation. We discussed the various meds that I had used over the years. Then he asked the most important question ever, “What medications HAVE worked for you?”. Nortriptyline! We talked about my experiences with Nortriptyline (i really hate typing the word Nortriptyline, it’s very difficult to type). As an added benefit, it was a medication on the Target $4 list! So we went over the possible side effects and the way it works and I got me a prescription for Nortriptyline!
I started slow, 25mg to start, 25mg bumps over 7 day intervals. Initially, I was a bit disappointed. I could feel no positive difference but I was feeling some very definite apathy coming back. Then about 4 weeks in it was like a vice grip had been released from my brain. The apathy was slowly burning away like fog in the morning light. More importantly, I was feeling motivation. I had not felt much in the way of motivation for years.
I take 100mg of Nortriptyline every day. I am not ‘healed’ or ‘better’, my depression has not been magically zapped away. It doesn’t work like that. What has happened is that I have looked down and finally saw the path that could lead me out of the forest. I still have months and months of hard work in front of me, but now I am able to face that work without the constant self defeating actions of my brain.
And what happens if I turn and try to look back? I see frustration back there. There is a part of me that feels angry over losing 3 years of my life to ineffectual medications. It is not hard to imagine where my life would be if only I’d spoken up or insisted on getting Nortriptyline. I’d probably still have my job, David and I would have bought a house. I’ve lost a lot of friends over these past 3 years because of my inability to maintain contact. Mostly, however, it pains me to think that David has had to live with this, that many of his plans had to be compromised because of my depression.
Time is a one way street. I can look back, but I can only watch it recede out of sight. Part of me is angry, part of me is sad. A greater part of me, however, knows that this life is truly finite and that the only thing I can control is what I choose to do next. If I could go back in time and change things, I would, absolutely, but I cannot. I will instead, try to be kind to my own self, to be forgiving and charitable to myself. My goals in life were never big, they were never along the lines of “be a big success” or “be famous”. My goals were always tempered with “do the best you can with what you have”. I am a journey oriented person, I revel more in the “now” of life than in the “long term”, perhaps this is why I love dogs so much, they only know right now and they love the hell out of every right now that they experience.
It is not easy, but I am turning away from what I have lost and will focus my energies on what I can be.