Rain Drop

I’ve been lying awake in bed at night a lot lately, thinking about pretty much everything.  Last night, some of these thoughts came together in the form of the following poem:

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Falling

Falling

Eternity to the ground

Sitting

Waiting

Purpose all gone

Had it ever been?

Suddenly

Rising

Sun from behind cloud

Lifting

Drifting

Cycle starts again

rain-drop

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If you’re reading this anywhere but That Girl, Fae or a feed reader without attribution, it has been STOLEN! Who knew that my stuff was that good? ~ Fae

Creative Commons License
That Girl, Fae by R Simpson-Large aka Fae Teardrop is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 New Zealand License.

Guest Post: A Journey With Depression

This guest post is written by Anita and how she made her own way through depression and medication.

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I was diagnosed with a clinical depression when I was 18 years old. Before it came to this, I had struggled with several physical complaints, like an ulcer, migraines, nausea, insomnia, basically any signs that my body, or even better, my brain was trying to tell me something. Because I wasn’t educated enough, I was put on medication in combination with psycho therapy, thinking this could fix me. Twice a week I went in to talk about whether the medication was working, whether I felt better. After a few sessions, the psychiatrist felt like I wasn’t making any progress, so he increased the dose of the medication.

This went on for another couple of weeks and according to him (I can’t remember whether I felt different or better, or worse) I still wasn’t making any progress nor had any improvement, so he put me on a different anti depressant. As I later on learnt, with the development of the internet and forums, the first one was an MOA inhibitor, the second one an SSRI. The same cycle repeated itself, no improvement after a few weeks, dosage was increased, still no affect, increase dose and see therapist.

By then my doctor got really crafty, he prescribed me a TeCA, a tetracyclic anti depressant. Yes, even I had to look this one up, since I can only remember the brand names or generic names of the pills. This procedure went on for I think more than a year. By that time I had stopped seeing the therapist, because my health insurance only allowed me for 20 sessions. Instead I went to see my GP once a month for repeat prescriptions. By that time I don’t think I had made any progress. Okay, I didn’t feel suicidal any more; I didn’t sleep for days any more. I had kept the same job and house, in other words I was functional in society.

During this phase, I was also diagnosed with ADHD, which meant more medication. The (in)famous Ritalin. But the internet and my access to information grew. I started asking questions online and talking to people who were in the same boat, so to speak, as me. And like Edward Norton in the Fight Club, I went to support groups for people with depression and people with ADHD and people with a combination of these two. I kept my mouth shut and just listened, and asked questions; lots of them. And I learnt a lot. I learnt that the pharmacy that I carried around with me wasn’t helping me at all, especially the anti depressants. After coming home from a 5 week holiday, I decided to quit the 120 mgs of Citalopram (Celesta, Cipramil) a day. Cold turkey. In hindsight I hadn’t researched that part very well, because you are supposed to taper these things. Anyway, after maybe three or four months of mood swings, terrible mood swings, anger fits (I killed 2 vacuum cleaners, drove the car into a tree, not on purpose, I see how this coming from a depressed person may sound like a suicide attempt, but it wasn’t and smashed a bathroom window with my bare hands) and more horrendous things I started to feel “normal” again. With normal, I mean, I could feel the rain on my skin again when walking outside. And normal like being a tad bit more excited about something that just the flat, careless uttering of the word “meh”. All in all it took me at least a year to balance things out. Next step was quitting Ritalin. The only reason I used this was to increase my attention span from 3 seconds to 35 minutes because I had a demanded (mentally) job and I needed to money to pay for my immigration to New Zealand.

Once in New Zealand, I quit Ritalin as well. Any immigrant can agree, my first job in New Zealand could be done by a retarded hamster, so no major mental effort needed, which meant no Ritalin needed. I was up to 90 mgs a day and quitting that was easier.

Years after my first diagnose with depression I figured out medication is not for me. I’m not saying they don’t work, I’m saying they don’t work for me. I have a friend who’s been on Prozac for 5 years now and every time he tries to lower the dose, he feels like harming himself. He and I both know that these pills do work for him.

I am a balanced and happy person now. I took a long and sometimes very painful journey to get there, but I am here now.

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I (Fae) asked Anita to explain further how she now manages her depression.

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It sounds very simple, but I basically turned my life around. I changed everything, especially my way of thinking. I used to be locked into that negative spiral of thinking, you know, Oh they won’t return my call = they hate me. Now I think “They probably are busy” and they often are ;-)

Podcasts are essential. I have a few I swear by. Honest people that tell me things my parents should have told me. I’m catching up and learning every day.

2010 and 2011 were really bad years for me and the events that happened forced me to change my outlook and priorities on life.

I got divorced, lost my house, lost my job, lost my sister. But I gained so much more. Every time I was about to give up, something little happened, a friend rang, someone visited my house, anything small which made me carry on and appreciate the things I had.

I met my current beautiful partner. I found a new job. I found a new house. I learned to live in a destroyed house without water and electricity.

I learned how to survive.

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If you’re reading this anywhere but That Girl, Fae or a feed reader without attribution, it has been STOLEN! Who knew that my stuff was that good? ~ Fae

Creative Commons License
That Girl, Fae by R Simpson-Large aka Fae Teardrop is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 New Zealand License.

The Happy Haps

I swear, sometimes the hardest thing about writing these posts is thinking up an appropriate title…

So it’s been a while, and I thought I should write an update. I had this wonderfully planned out on Friday, but since then it’s kind of… escaped me… so we’ll start at the beginning of this new chapter in my life.

In April I got married to the ever wonderful J. Afterwards, I had ‘wedding drop.’ Two and a half years of anticipation had come to a close. I was an emotional time bomb, with a fuse shortened by feeling that I was the worst wife in the world, that I had deceived J somehow into marrying me. This isn’t true of course, he knew what he was signing up for, and he continues to amaze me.

The continuing tension between Pedro and Coffee certainly wasn’t helping either. They’re my children, and Pedro hated Coffee with the firey passion of a thousand suns. So we placed an ad on TradeMe offering Pedro for free to a good home, and we were able to rehome him soon after. He is now roaming rural Leeston as a mouser.

I managed to convince J that we needed to get another cat, one that was smaller than Coffee so that the hierarchy could be established immediately. And that is how Hobbes came into our lives:

He’s a beautiful tuxedo kitten, about eight months old, definitely submissive to Coffee, very talkative, and likes to hoard beer bottle caps.

So yay!! All the cats are happy :)

And an extra photo of Coffee:

In May I had my obligatory ‘WHAT THE FUCK AM I DOING!!??‘ post, followed by the ‘here’s what I’m going to do‘ post (as often happens with me), and I applied for a late withdrawal from all the first semester papers.

So it was decided that I would take a three-month break from uni, which turned out to be a good thing. I knitted a LOT and have considered starting a business selling my own arm warmers and hats, cause I’ve really got those down now. I’ve made good use of the Xbox 360, having finished Skyrim, Witcher 2, and Dante’s Inferno. I have just started Bioshock, and after that I have Red Dead Redemption. You’re probably thinking, ‘but wait, shouldn’t you be back at uni now?’ I’ll get to that in a moment.

At the end of what would have been my first semester, I got the flu which J had bought home. The weekend before everyone else’s exams started, my right ear drum burst after a very quickly progressing ear infection. It’s been nearly two months and my hearing still isn’t back to normal. There’s still a bit of pain, and the doctor isn’t sure if there’s still a whole in the drum or not. Going for a follow-up tomorrow and I’ve been referred to a public ear, nose, and throat specialist. I’m not even going to try to predict how long it will take me to get an appointment.

Last week was the beginning of the second semester. Up until then I hadn’t been sure whether I actually wanted to go back or not. I certainly wasn’t excited. Once I had that first lecture on the Monday though, I was pumped and knew I was going to make this semester my bitch.

On the Wednesday, after discussion with my doctor, I decided that I wanted to come off Effexor. I was sick of the sweating, the potential damage it was doing to my liver (there’s a family history of bad livers), the fact that I didn’t seem to be keeping me out of depressive episodes anymore, the elevated blood pressure, and babies. I knew that it wasn’t going to be a picnic to come off, and I certainly didn’t want to be putting a baby through that. Not that I’m pregnant, but I hope to be in the near-ish future. So a tapering schedule was worked out, decreasing my dosage by 37.5mg each week. In six weeks, hopefully I’ll be clean.

Thursday, still feeling pretty excited about all the positivity. Thursday evening comes along, and I receive an email from the Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences. It has been decided that I am to be excluded from the school. What the…. I was so confused. I had received confirmation that my withdrawal application had been accepted. Why had I been excluded? I could appeal the decision, but my application for appeal had to be in by the following Monday. WHAT WAS I GOING TO DO!!??

I pretty much ignored the whole thing that night but the next day, it was emotional. My God it was! Panic attack levels of emotion. While I was having a melt down, J was at uni in a meeting. Afterwards he was able to talk to his supervisor (who had previously been a Dean). He explained the decision certainly wouldn’t have been personal, and that large numbers aggregates and withdrawals can also lead to the same decision. Though I had no withdrawals last year, and only failed one paper in the first semester, virtually all my marks had come with aggregates. So I decided to accept the decision. I hadn’t been sure about coming back for this semester anyway, and now the decision had just been made for me. As for what I’m going to do with myself now, I’m going to put off thinking about that for a little bit.

On Sunday I was suddenly very glad that this had happened. I experienced my first brain shiver, one of the many potential withdrawal symptoms related to SSRI discontinuation syndrome. A brain shiver is incredibly hard to describe, it’s like extreme dizziness with some sharp pinging sensations thrown in, but it’s different from the electric shocks I got from Aropax. It seems that people normally get them from moving too fast (too fast being anything other than slow). That first one, I was just moving back onto the couch and it lasted a good ten seconds. I’ve had about two more since then, but they were only short, a second or two, and seemed to happen after moving around slightly too fast. On top of that I have insomnia, nausea, headaches, anxiety, general dizziness, lethargy. Every day the symptoms calm down a bit more though, at least until I reduce my dosage again. It’s only six weeks, I can do this!!

So I’m glad that I got excluded. These side effects are not really conducive to studying effectively. Even if I’m not able to fulfill my social contract by contributing to society right now (my personal philosophy as inspired by Thomas Hobbes), I think I’m heading in the right direction to be able to do so again.

Decisions Made

Following on from yesterday’s post, I now have a fair idea with regards to my immediate future.

With J’s support, I have decided to withdraw from the rest of the semester.

I am too far behind (four weeks), and I can’t get my head back in the game.  Evil Twin Fae and her gremlins feeding this sense of complete failure is not going to let me fix things quickly.  I realise now that there is no way to salvage the remains of this semester.

I need a break. A chance to re-evaluate things.

At this stage I will be going back to attend the second semester, but probably as more of a part-time student, as per J’s advice.

As the second semester doesn’t start until 9 July 2012, that gives me about two months to sort my head out, and what my future as a student entails.

I’m still very unsure about everything, and how I feel. There is definitely now a sense of relief that a preliminary decision has been made, with a little bit of disappointment poking its way through from underneath.

Giving up doesn't always mean you are weak... - sometimes it means that you are strong enough to let go