Bellyaching

I was feeling terribly nauseated for the past two weeks. I had almost given up hope on my new med because of it. But now things appear to be getting better, not worse as I had feared. I thought I was going to have to put in for leave at work. I thought I wouldn’t be able to pay my bills. I was terrified. But too sick to move much, so that was fun. Today I am not as nauseated and I appear to be getting my appetite back. Steps in the right direction.

I’m tired of being complacent with where I am though. I feel ready in some ways to take a leap into some form of at-home work. I would have to do it after my regular job though because as I said, bills to pay. Which is difficult because, with an invisible disability, a 40-hour workweek really takes it out of me. So finding the additional time where I feel productive is a challenge. I’m also supposed to be exercising and all that jazz. Which has also proved elusive, especially for the last few weeks.

As for the bills, if things get bad, I know there are resources out there. And there’s always declaring bankruptcy which I hope I don’t have to do but hell. If I lose my job or don’t find a new one I would be in a tight spot. I have too many bills. My divorce didn’t leave me financially stable though I appreciate the support given to me by my ex. I just don’t have the practical skills to make it after being a stay-at-home military spouse for so long. I need some remedial training. I need to not be mentally ill on top of it.

But there are some things I can change and some things I cannot. So finding remedial, cheap courses it is. I really need to learn to use Excel, for example. And I bought a Udemy course on editing a while back that would prove useful when applying to evaluate college-level papers. I also got some leads on work-at-home jobs from a private advice group online. I need to follow up accordingly.

But right now I am going to make myself a big old breakfast. Because after not being to eat much for several days, I am starving.

Interactions

So my off days extended into my working days. I have been twitchy, restless and emotionally unstable. I saw my med manager, who cut back on my generic Abilify, making everything, including the anxiety, worse. I saw my primary care doctor who thought the fun side effects might be from the new med fluvoxamine, but who also wanted to defer to the expertise of the medication manager.

Everything kept getting worse to the point where despite the two medical visits, I missed two days of work that I couldn’t really afford to lose. Because of my daughter’s medical problems and my own personal brand of nutty my attendance has not been stellar. I feel horrible but I knew I could not perform the duties of my job while feeling like I was on the verge of a breakdown. I did a lot of sleeping to ward off the restlessness. I know that sounds weird but sometimes you’ve got to put yourself in shutdown mode so you don’t lose it. I have been nervous and restless, twitchy and sometimes even enraged and aggressive.

I couldn’t figure out whether it was the new med or the old med either. I just knew that when the med manager asked me to increase the dose of Abilify I was still unstable. Then I started Googling my med names at work, and wah-lah. An interaction appeared. According to Drugs.com:

“FluvoxaMINE may increase the blood levels of ARIPiprazole. This can increase the risk and/or severity of side effects such as drowsiness, seizure, Parkinson-like symptoms, abnormal muscle movements, and low blood pressure. You may need a dose adjustment or more frequent monitoring by your doctor to safely use both medications. Contact your doctor if you experience agitation, aggression, confusion, convulsions, muscle spasm, or movements that you can’t stop or control such as lip smacking, chewing, puckering, frowning or scowling, tongue thrusting, teeth clenching, jaw twitching, blinking, eye rolling, shaking or jerking of arms and legs, tremor, jitteriness, restlessness, pacing, and foot tapping. Also be alert to symptoms of low blood pressure such as dizziness, lightheadedness, fainting, and/or increased pulse or heart rate. Avoid driving or operating hazardous machinery until you know how these medications affect you, and use caution when getting up from a sitting or lying position, especially at the beginning of treatment or after an increase in dose of ARIPiprazole. It is important to tell your doctor about all other medications you use, including vitamins and herbs. Do not stop using any medications without first talking to your doctor.”

And I scream into the void, what in the actual eff??? “Agitation, aggression, confusion…muscle spasm…movements that you can’t stop or control…shaking or jerking of arms and legs, tremor, jitteriness, restlessness, pacing…” Oh, gee. You mean EVERYTHING I’VE BEEN EXPERIENCING SINCE STARTING THIS COMBINATION OF MEDS???

Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? Try sitting at a desk for 8 hours tethered to a set of headphones and feeling this way. My only advice was to go to the hospital if things got worse or if (God forbid) I became suicidal. No indication from either professional that it might be the combination of meds causing the oftentimes freakshow side effects.

But at least my ability to function in general wasn’t affected, right? Hahahahaha. My boyfriend had noticed me being agitated but thought it was frustration from the meds not working. Turns out all my daily interactions were being influenced by this one horrible interaction brain chemistry clusterf***.

So since it’s the weekend, what do I do? Take less of each med and wait for Monday to roll around. Walk around periodically so I don’t go out of my gourd. Watch my caffeine consumption, half-caff seemed to make me quite jittery though. Go to the emergency room if I get worse, who can afford that?

And the real kicker is I’ve got $250 worth of clomipramine which also produces side effects (but not as bad as these) sitting in a drawer. For which I cannot get a refund because it was not their fault that my med manager discontinued it after I ordered it. I never had a bad interaction on that one and the Abilify. But I have no idea whether I can safely switch the one for the other without first weaning off the fluvoxamine.

And another thing, besides being a complete pain in my ass, this med interaction is affecting my entire left leg and has become a pain in my knee. Because I can’t quit twitching and foot tapping on that side, my bursitis has decided to rear its ugly head. This makes getting up and down particularly painful. And the stairs? My mortal enemy. GAH.

I had to get up a few seconds ago and walk around to mitigate the restlessness and anxiety. I can only imagine what I am like to live with when I am like this, I feel bad for my daughter and my boyfriend. At least he is extremely empathetic, which helps a great deal.

As always, I’ll keep y’all posted on my progress or lack thereof. Thanks for reading. We will get this figured out someday, let’s just hope it’s someday soon. wRQST0c1QuSl9nf4v2q8qA

Off Days on Days Off

Hi all. I keep forgetting to take my damn medication.

It doesn’t work as well as the far more expensive clomipramine in the first place. And I have to separate it into two doses, one at bedtime and one in the evening. But the one in the morning? Ha. It eludes me every other day. Which makes the medication less effective I would imagine. So much less effective that I now have been prescribed an anti-anxiety med on top of the new OCD med and the mood stabilizer.

The good news is my schedule at work changed and I am no longer falling asleep in my car because my days have been shifted forward two hours. Thank goodness. I could not afford my much-needed sleep tests at $2800 out-of-pocket so it was either get a schedule change or find another job. Was it the former medication causing my daytime somnolence? I may never know. Might try to see if the home sleep test is less expensive to at least rule out apnea, though narcolepsy was the suspected diagnosis.

So I am writing now on my new medication. It is supposed to make me relaxed and perhaps sleepy. At present, it is doing neither. I would ask for the cure-all controlled substance Ativan but a) I already have some and don’t take it because I know it’s addictive and b) I was on it for five years and once you are on it regularly it’s awfully hard to wean yourself off of it. I could take it all the time to control the anxiety but I would be giving up a certain measure of consciousness and control. So yes, there are some meds I will not take willingly. Surprise surprise.

But skipping a med makes my head feel wonky and makes me exceptionally paranoid. The old OCD guilt starts seeping in. I didn’t stop for an old lady in a busy parking lot because I didn’t see her until I was almost past her with the sun being at the angle that it was. Now I’m worried that she thinks I am the biggest jerk alive which hey, she has every right to do. But this guilt for not having stopped is eating away at me. Am I a bad person? Not really. Do I stop for pedestrians? When I see them, yes. Can I change anything about it now? No. Yet this nagging guilt is making my head run in circles again.

Being obsessive-compulsive and making any sort of mistake can be torture. I’m thinking about going back on clomipramine even though at the outrageous copay I cannot reasonably afford it. A grand a year ain’t cheap. But neither is the price of tormenting yourself internally over stupid things that you can’t change.

In case you can’t tell, I’m a little off today. Thank the stars I am actually off work today as well. I can’t afford to be this anxious at work. It does me no good and it sure as hell doesn’t benefit my customers. The more anxious I get the more mistakes I make. The more mistakes I make the more anxious I get. Everything is this vicious circle and by the end of the day, I find myself quite out of sorts.

One more day off. At least my job is one where you don’t take work home with you. Unless you count the emotional toll dealing with all types of calls takes on the empathetic types. We wouldn’t be there if we didn’t have a certain measure of compassion for our customers. However, sometimes we care too much about them and that can be our undoing. I have self-referred to EAP. Have I had time to make the much-needed appointments? Nope. So I guess since the referral is long expired I will try again.

Do I think about my customers after work? Of course. Can I discuss their strife? Nope. So I keep it all inside. Have I mentioned that I obsess as it is? Arrrrgggg. Have I thought about a different career path? Yes, but that causes me even more anxiety. I want to write, I may even try to get an MFA in writing. If I can figure out how to fund it. But knowing the stress I was under and an undergrad, could I handle it?

That’s the real question.

And so folks, I am going to take my high-strung self and try to relax. Or shave a cat or something.

P.S. I’m not being vindictive or weird. The cats are fat and have some serious self-grooming issues, poor things.  They need HALP.KGC6f09pRfeeQxUVv1RDPw

On Dreams and Dust

So it’s almost sunrise. I’ve been up since 1:30. What woke me? Teenagers. They were being super loud. Sleepovers are fun but apparently sleep being involved is old hat.

I decided to unpack some kitchen stuff but the little cat would howl like mad every time I went in the garage. She has never done that before. She is not attached to me and I don’t think she was wailing over concerns for my safety. Doubtless, she was just jealous of my early morning garage adventures without her.

So instead of waking the boyfriend and the (finally sleeping) kids, I’ve decided to do a little writing. It’s been a while and I’ve been quite busy moving.

So some great news–I have a new schedule at work. This will hopefully prevent me from drowsy driving in the mornings. My sleep tests have been put on hold until such time that I suddenly find myself independently wealthy. The cost of the studies after insurance? $2800. I don’t exactly have that kind of cash in savings. I was hoping for my responsibility to be oh, say, ten times less than that. $300 I could swing. $3000 not so much. So I guess without me winning the lottery we will never know what exactly is the root cause of my poor sleep quality and insomnia.

So the tests that were to be slated for yesterday and today were not done. And here I am awake and pondering whether I indeed have apnea or narcolepsy on top of everything else.  And despite the coffee, I am finally getting sleepy myself.

The move is going well though I feel like putting half of my stuff in a pile and burning it. Just reducing it all to ash. I have so many pots, pans, clothes, decorations, you name it. Despite my financial struggles the last few years I sure have continued to accumulate a lot of junk. Most of it’s not worth much to anyone but me. I should really try the decluttering thing. I guess in 13 years of marriage and 41 years of life, in general, you just collect things. Like dust. I feel like half my life is over and I spent a great deal of it being listless and depressed. Halted by so many things, not the least of which was having a spouse in the military and limited personal options. Are my talents worth anything anymore? Time will tell…

Speaking of my old marriage, I saw the ex just long enough to remember why we’re not married anymore. I won’t go into great detail but some of the things he says are just…wow. My boyfriend met him this last week during our little trips to Burley and it was less awkward than I would have thought possible, which was nice.

I just glanced over to see both my little cat ladies asleep on the guest bed. They are doing well, though the big orange tomcat continually gets the boot for harassment. Someday they will all learn to play together peacefully. Mona Lisa, named for her unique markings, will roll around on the couch every evening and even (gasp) expose her belly. She then makes these blissful little purring noises. I think she’s happy. I know I am.

This belly of mine certainly won’t be getting any exposure this summer. I think I gained 20 lbs just stress eating the past six weeks. But now we are settling into taking walks and cooking every night. So hopefully the addition of diet and exercise will help me meet some of my long-neglected health goals.

I also am starting to formulate some publication goals and am even entertaining the notion of applying for some scholarships to go back to school. I would like to be a writer in some fashion though I don’t think I could ever write fictional novels like I wanted to when I was a kid. I’m definitely a non-fiction type chick.

And always, there is this notion of life being finite. Hamilton is ringing in my head. “Why do you write like you’re running out of time?” With Father’s Day fast approaching, I have some idea why. None of us know how long we’ve got. It could be well over 50 more years, it could be today. I don’t know why I find it so important to leave a mark on the world. I guess I’d rather have my ideas etched in ink and internet than in dust.

pNu4HNcES1iThWqX98PLRQ

And oh the joys of YouTube. Where has this been all my life? Literary hero meets my ​musical heroine.

Return of the Crazy Cat Lady

Not one, not two, but three crazy cats woke me up to be fed at four in the morning. I am sitting here with my Crazy Cat Lady mug and my Crazy Cat Lady coaster blogging for the first time from my new home. My secret? I love it. Being woken up before dawn and all.

My two cats are adapting rather well to their new environment but having more than twice the space and multiple cupboards mean that WE CAN’T FIND STARLIGHT HALF THE TIME. Her favorite place to hide is in the built-in bar downstairs though we have also found her crouched behind the dryer. Mostly she seems to be hiding from Frank.

Frank is the new character in our play. He is a 20-pound orange tomcat. He is large and in charge and currently has been sent outside. His offense? Sexual harassment. From the noises being made at the front door, I think he wants back in. Silly kitty.

So we have a cast of Frank the Tank, Mona the Floof, and Starlight the Nut. Which makes life rather interesting. This, believe it or not, is as many cats as I have ever had at once. I am thinking about writing a Twilight/Warriors hybrid where there is a cat love triangle. Frank loves Starlight’s wild personality but cannot resist Mona’s looks, etc. I’ll let you know how that goes.

Unpacking is going slowly but surely. Just looked up startled from the computer to see Star had jumped in the window and Mona is at my feet. I don’t know how, but they found me. Now Star is on the bookshelf trying to get into the recess in the wall. I would unpack more at this hour but I don’t want to wake everyone in the house any more than they’ve already been awakened.

Now Star is in the middle of the bookshelf in the closet. Sniffing everything in sight and sharpening her claws on a nearby sweater. Someday she will calm down. Today is not that day.

I will end this rather short entry and tend to the kitties. Here are a few pics of the cats along with a little diddy that Vi has been enjoying as of late. Must go to Burley to drop her off with her dad today and my alarm to wake up doesn’t go off for another 45 minutes…

Moving

Hi. Long time, no write. Moving in with the boyfriend these next few days. Looking at one of the last sunrises in this apartment, I am overwhelmed. I would write more but hey, limited internet access.

Love and peace to all of you in and out of chaos.

Under the Bridge

So I was recently told by a former addict that my mental illness is an excuse and a way to avoid accountability. Hmmm. Oh yeah, that’s it. Because symptoms of a disease that primarily affect my personal thoughts and actions are so much fun to experience that I just keep doing it.

I hate to say that trolls are stupid but this one is a new variety of stupid. I’ve been writing about anxiety online for over a decade and people still act like I don’t know what in the hell I’m talking about. It never ceases to amaze. But instead of letting it continue to hurt my feelings, I soldier on.

Another group I was in, a depression group, had a member pass. I couldn’t take it anymore and I pulled the plug on that group. It was too sad. People’s experiences are vastly different and I found that this particular group was causing more depression and anxiety than it was alleviating. So yeah, there goes any hope I had of being in an effective online support group. Besides the one with my close friends in it of course. That one has been more valuable to me than anything and helped me through so much.

So that’s where I’m at. Moving is incredibly stressful no matter the circumstances. Very happy to be moving in with a sweet and supportive boyfriend yet very sad to be leaving my little abode here in the foothills. The more I purge things and pack the more upset I seem to get. But on to bigger and better things. It will be a good step for our relationship as we celebrate our one year anniversary two days beforehand. I have my doubts still but they are good doubts and the ones that I always had.

What is my main doubt about my relationship? He is too damn nice for me. What a conundrum. Too incredibly empathetic and supportive and I feel so incredibly lucky. Cannot express my gratefulness truly. And I catch myself being snarky sometimes with him and I just need to watch the cynicism. Lol. Tone it down, lady.

And my daughter and my fellow get along great which is totally ideal and awesome. Especially since she is at an age where she is getting more withdrawn and getting away from being a mamma’s girl. She doesn’t hate me, yet. But she is a teen and I suspect that’s coming.

Oh dear. I really have it good. I should go back to bed so I continue to have a good day despite others doing their best to troll me. Comparison can truly be the thief of joy. Would I like to be normal? Well hell yes, for some reason I strive to be. But it’s more interesting to be true to who I am despite the obvious drawbacks.

Treading Water

Hey, perhaps I’ve been fooling my audience. Perhaps certain readers thought that single momming it while disabled by mental illness was somehow a cakewalk. Let me tell you, it’s not. My latest struggle has been managing panic attacks while trying to get my kid to manage basic concepts like hygiene.

I couldn’t have made it this far without thanking my financial and emotional sponsors. You know who you are. I do appreciate everything that you’ve done for me. Especially my mother, without whom I would have been homeless when I first split from my husband. And the as yet anonymous donors who helped me to cover first month’s rent and my kitty deposit. That was as unexpected as it was generous.

And I don’t mean to downplay it. But financial support of any kind does not give you cart blanche to tell me how I should live my life. I’ve got it handled and all intended goals will be accomplished in due time. Unsolicited advice has its place and that place is in some dark recess of your mind where it never sees the light of day.

And yes, some of us are actually unlucky enough to need medication. It’s not enough to inhale nature or to take a jog to restore our mental health. It is a constant battle just to stay above water. That’s what I feel like I’ve been doing these last few years. Trying not to drown in debt, emotions, my past and frequently occurring mistakes. And the truth is that no matter how bad certain folks try to make me feel, nothing will trump this guilt machine that is my OCD.

I’ve seen a lot of us disabled folks ridiculed for our perceived weaknesses lately on social media and it makes me angry. I’ve been working to end stigma of mental illness for years and to have my perceived inadequacies thrown in my face has been disheartening. I want to shake certain folks and say hey, that’s what I’ve been trying to tell you. For years now. For over a decade. My husband didn’t treat me very well, as I’ve alluded to on here. But the worst part was that no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get him to understand or empathize with my mental illnesses.

Mental illness does not make you less than, it makes you more than because you have to struggle more just to survive. Swimming in water, especially the dark waters of your brain, is not easy. Some of us have found outlets to control our anxiety and other maladies, some of us aren’t so fortunate. And we shouldn’t be belittled or told that simple, obvious things will fix us right up. If it were that easy, I would have done it a long time ago.

And I guess what I find the most insulting is this. Don’t you think that if it were as easy as diet and exercise, that I would be doing just that for the sake of my daughter? I’ve exercised and eaten right and still found myself mired in delusion because guess what? I was born this way. It’s not something that can be helped. No band aid can be thrown over it.

Sorry. A lot of this is just repressed anger at my ex, and I realize that. But even he has achieved an unparalleled level of understanding since we split and I thank him for that. I know it’s hard to empathize with true mental illness when you have not experienced it for yourself. Not everyone can handle their shit with kale and a jog. Man, I wish it were that easy.

And with that, my mentally ill insomniac brain is going to put this time to good use and make a moving checklist. Until next time, dear readers.

Scrambled

Hey, it’s 3am. Again. Had some time away from work and am now going to focus on moving out of this adorable apartment. I would spend more time being bitter, but it’s just not worth it. Time to move on and focus on self-improvement in all areas. And to accept that no matter how hard you try, your overall message will elude some people.

Do I wish for life sans meds? Who wouldn’t? Do I recognize that this is not an achievable goal for me? Yeppers. So now I’m going to recognize and be grateful for the things that I can change. And be grateful that supportive cohabitation will help me achieve some goals that are long overdue.

The book(s). The essay compilation and the sarcastic romance novel. They need to get done. I’m going to finish honing the essays first. Because short form is what I am better at, allegedly. I need to set aside actual structured time to write, none of this willy-nilly pre-dawn crap. Let’s see what I can achieve while writing during the day, shall we?

Reading is fundamental. Need to also set aside time each day to read, even if it’s just a few pages before bed. I’m going to start by finishing Stephen King’s On Writing. And then work my way through some books of essays because hey hey, that’s what I enjoy writing.

Also, need to read aloud to my kid and vice versa. Since we are managing her ADHD without medication I also need to read up on strategies for her focus and time management. On vacation, I noted that my niece got ready for school after waking up from her own alarm, for example. Whereas my kiddo seems to have no sense of self-propelled urgency about getting ready in the mornings. We need to work on this.

Also, yes, the elusive exercise, which I also need to structure time for. I know once we get the bikes in shape we will ride the green belt, etc. What I really need to do is some stretching, yoga, maybe start with a walk. The knees are terrible folks and I suspect that there is very little cartilage left in them. This makes exercise problematic at times but I’m no longer accepting it as an excuse.

Yes, vegetables are on the horizon as well. But not kale, it tastes like dirt.

What else? Time with the family. Events vs. hoarding stuff. Focusing on cooking, I used to be pretty good at it. But it’s difficult when the other half of your household doesn’t want variety. Compiling a recipe book again. Makes me hungry just thinking about it.

Now, time for some eggs. Because they are the only thing left in the fridge practically. No milk though. Perhaps I will make some scrambled eggs with chocolate milk like my grandmother infamously did a long time ago…

The Wall

It’s been as futile as talking to a wall.

Why is mental illness so difficult to empathize with? We don’t condemn those with cancer or heart conditions for taking their medicines. We ask what the doctor has done for the person, we sympathize, we move on. We thank God we are not in their situation. We wish there were more that we could do, more that anyone could do. We pray for an elusive cure.

Chronic illness sufferers, especially when the disability or illness is “invisible,” get a bad rap. We are seen as lazy whiners. Because our maladies are masked, we get the dumbest questions and unsolicited advice imaginable. We are told that the answer is there, we are just too stupid to see it.

It’s too bad I can’t carry my brain outside of my body in a wheelchair. Then maybe people would see, oh, hey yeah. There it is. Instead, I can only try to explain what goes on in that brain. Some of it is too disturbing to share. A lot of it involves self-hatred for being weak or disabled. A lot of it, as an OCD sufferer, revolves around guilt.

I recently blocked a few folks on social media for making ignorant comments about my seemingly needless dependence on drugs. Let me tell you, it upset me. Because at least one of the people has read this blog. I thought there was a level of understanding there. Turns out if I just exercised and ate right, I wouldn’t need the drugs.

Oh gee. You mean the answer has been in front of me all along and I just didn’t see it? No. I tried everything to alleviate my symptoms including strictly regulating my diet and exercise because mamma didn’t raise no fool. Did it help? Not really. It drove me into erotomania, which believe me, is as fun as it sounds. It’s a particular type of delusion. I guess I can’t blame the exercise directly for what my errant brain decided to do. But it is proof that my particular mix of brain disorders does not improve with exercise.

I tried a lot of other things too, just about everything save illicit drugs. I figured my brain was already screwed up enough and I didn’t need added delusions or hallucinations on top of it.

Silly me.

And what do I get for taking my prescribed drugs like a good patient? Criticism. Why the hell are you obsessing when you could be jogging? Or going to the gym. Etc. Trust me, ​folks, I tried everything from practicing music to studying to exercise. I couldn’t control the intrusive thoughts or the obsessions on my own. It took a nervous breakdown to get me on some appropriate medications and I came close to dying by my own hand. My stupid brain put up an immense amount of resistance.

And what do I find now? My brain can rest. I can focus on things like getting out of bed and hygiene. Just because I may not look like I’m still suffering even with the drugs does not mean that I am cured. These diseases, these disorders, have no known cure. Have a little respect.

I may not be the smartest person in the world, but I’ve tried everything short of CrossFit. Come on people, even my crazy has its limits.

And to the folks I blocked, I say this–thanks for your opinions. Ignorance is bliss. Must be nice to live in such refined reality. My reality, unfortunately or not, will always be much different. But I am happy for you. You can be normal, you can be immensely successful. You can probably achieve a greatness that I can’t, in some ways. After all, you’re not down in the trenches or even attempting to take down your own walls.

Go ahead and be ordinary. Consider yourself fortunate that the path you carve has been a charmed one and you have not experienced a literal hell on earth due to the clamoring of your brain. I know we all struggle but come on, people. Could we not be total jerks to people with disabilities who are trying to educate others?

And thank you. Thank you for convincing me that no matter how “off” and obstinate an un-coachable I am, that being myself and not some cookie-cutter version of reality will always be better.