It’s just a load of fluff

This past week has been hard. It started off with a phase of feeling very down – I was going to bed at 6pm rather than be awake, except I’m not sleeping well so I wake up every hour or so. I’m tired, and everything feels stressful.

In the back of my mind a voice is saying ‘Yeah but you can cope’ – except, for what? What’s the point? I honestly feel like I have nothing to look forward to. Nothing that I can hang on to, like ‘If I can just get to X I’ll be okay’.

The rest of my week has been restless. Restless to the point of bouncing off the walls a little. Suddenly TV and computer games held no appeal (strange for me) – I needed to DO stuff. I baked. A lot. Did gardening. Tidied. Washed the car. I’ve never been so domestically efficient. Really I want to build something. Maybe write an app. But I have no idea how to do it, and the thought of a learning process first puts me off. It’s all go go go.

I realised at work that my brain seems to have turned to marshmallow. I can’t think deeply. Someone asks me to solve a problem, and I try to think about it, and BANG I hit this fuzzy wall and it’s like my brain switches off. I wonder if it’s the medication. I miss being able to think things through. My colleagues probably miss me being able to do that too.


Stuck in the mud

Do you ever get the feeling that times are changing around you, but you’re not? Do you worry about being left behind?

I feel like elements of my life are changing, but my anxiety holds constant. There was some improvement with the Lyrica, but ultimately I still find it really hard to leave the house. It’s just a bit less vomit-inspiring if I do make it out.

Our team is restructuring at work, putting me in more of a managerial position. This is really good for me, and will glow on my CV, but I feel sad to be taking a step away from the day-to-day. There’s something very reassuring about a role where you come in, keep your head down, and get on with your work. Managing is so much more stress inducing, having to deal with other people. If my health was different, I would be a lot more enthusiastic about this change. It’s a step forward, and I can’t let my anxiety and depressive tendencies hold me back.

My team leader emailed out on Friday to say that we should all go on a social sometime soon, listing various options like dinner out or a bowling trip. They’ve been great fun in the past, and I like spending time with these guys, but…I just can’t do it right now. It’s not about the socialising, it’s about having to go somewhere. I’m going to be the ‘bad guy’ for not attending, but I don’t feel like I have a choice. I did talk to my time leader about my anxiety issues a couple of weeks back, but either he’s forgotten or he thinks I’m better now. So now I need to have that chat again, and come up with some excuse for everyone else. Sad times.

In December, when the worst of the anxiety descended, I made plans for January, because of course I’d be better by then. And in January I was making plans for February, that same assumption again. Now it’s April, and I don’t know when the hell I’m going to reach the end of this tunnel. It’s like the depression, that felt like it would never end. I want to say that I know somewhere deep down that it will end, but I have my doubts about that.

I’m not sure which is worse; depression or anxiety. I certainly know which has been more crippling for me.

Hear me rattle

This morning I set out my pills for the week as pictured, and felt a bit depressed looking at them all. I currently take the following:

  • Fluoxetine/Prozac – 60mg nightly
  • Mirtazapine/Remeron – 45mg nightly
  • Propranolol – 160mg slow release
  • Pregablin/Lyrica – 150mg nightly, 150mg in the morning

It adds up to a lot of pills, and I wish I wasn’t on this cocktail of chemicals. It’s also frightening to think about what would happen if I suddenly stopped taking them – I’d bet the withdrawals would be horrific.

I decided that I would get the bus into the nearest village today, which would be the first time I’ve used public transport since December. It didn’t happen. As I was getting ready to go, my anxiety climbed too high and I bailed. I’m trying not to be too disappointed in myself, but it is frustrating. As a compromise, I drove to the village instead, and while driving I was looking wishfully at all the people walking past who probably find life 100x easier than I do. Everyone has their own problems, but I doubt most people struggle to leave the house. I did a quick scoot around a supermarket and hurried back to the safety of home.

I really need to overcome this. When the anxiety started in December, I didn’t for a moment imagine it would last this long – I thought a month at most. It’s nearly April now, and I still can’t travel. Don’t get me wrong, things are easier than they were thanks to the pregablin, but I’m miles off normal.

Old wounds

Therapy has been going really well – I know I’m seriously lucky to have found such a good therapist after Dr T retired. Most recently she has asked me to draw out a timeline of my ‘life story’, and for now we’re spending each session talking through the different portions of it. (That makes my life sound really intricate and interesting, which it really isn’t).

The problem is it hurts. As in, it really hurts. Yesterday we talked about the first few months of my mental-health-decline, and despite thinking I was cool and detached from it all, I came out of the session on the verge of tears, feeling weighed down by a tonne of imaginary bricks. If we keep going, I’m scared of how much worse it can get – the worst years of my depression were absolutely horrible. For the most part I’ve blocked it all out – I found writing the timeline really difficult because I’ve lost track of what happened when – but now that it is on paper and we’re talking through it I can’t avoid it.

I’m not complaining. Not really. As much as it hurts, I have a sense that it’s healthy – that I need to process it properly, and I can’t do that by shutting the pain away. Maybe writing this post is me mentally steeling myself up for what’s to come. It’s taken me 48 hours to shift the blue mood I developed in the therapy session – it’s a shame it has to spill out into day-to-day life like that.

I’ve never cried in therapy, and I swore six years ago that I never would. As much as it scares me, I think I may have to face breaking that in the weeks to come.


Getting back to baseline

Life is improving, and I don’t know if it’s natural progression on the Lyrica, but either way I’ll definitely take it.

My anxiety isn’t there all the time now – I still feel it around busy/important times of day, and if I have a meeting with someone it occurs to me to be nervous about it, but for the rest of the day I’m relatively calm. It’s lovely! Today at work some of my colleagues decided to go to the pub for lunch, and I was able to join them – something I haven’t been able to do for weeks.

I don’t want to jinx it, but I’m really hoping I’m on to something good here.


Upping Lyrica is a real downer

Dosing up on Lyrica is HARD. Today was really difficult. As instructed by my GP, I took 150mg instead of 75mg, and oddly, five hours later I felt incredibly dizzy. I was at work and stood up from my desk to get lunch – suddenly the room was spinning and I couldn’t walk in a straight line. I thought it would wear off, like low blood pressure from standing up too fast, but no such luck.

Fortunately I have a friend at work who snuck me into an empty meeting room – I sat on the floor with my head against the wall and waited in vain for the physical drunkenness to pass. I wasn’t really well enough to be at work, but I also wasn’t in any fit state to drive home. I felt sick, but made myself eat a sandwich to try and settle my stomach – I think it helped a bit. Eventually I felt okay to return to my desk, and I did manage to do a little work. I made it home okay.

The big question is whether or not this is all worth it – I don’t have an answer yet, but early indications are promising. When my anxiety was at it’s worst, I was painfully aware of every minute that passed – it’s not like that now. I can get my head into my work, and concentrate on it solely for a while. If I think about my anxiety it does come back – I still can’t manage public transport, or drive very far, but I have hope that with this bigger dose of Lyrica these things could become possible again.


Goodbye Abilify, hello Lyrica

I didn’t get on well with the Abilify (aripiprazole) – I tried it for four weeks, and I struggled with insomnia the entire time despite already being on 45mg of Remeron (mirtazapine) to help with sleep. You’d think that being exhausted all day would at least mean the anxiety would die down, but no such luck.

I called my GP and we agreed to move on to the next drug – Lyrica (pregablin). I’ve been keen to get started with this one – it’s commonly used to treat anxiety, whereas the Abilify was an antipsychotic. Today is Day 2, and I have to admit the side effects are…interesting. I take it twice a day, and when I got to work yesterday I felt drunk. Mentally I was sharp, but physically I was lurching all over the place; I doubt I could have walked in a straight line. I’m working from home today so I can manage the symptoms from my sofa.

Work/anxiety-wise, yesterday was fantastic. I didn’t vomit. I didn’t panic. And, most impressively for me, I sat through an hour long meeting without having to run out once. It was amazing – I haven’t been able to do that for weeks now. Work are being really supportive – Occupational Health are very keen to do whatever they can to help, and I spoke to my boss who’s letting me work from home once a week and adjust my working hours. Maybe Lyrica is the reason yesterday was so good, but on a general note being in the office is less stressful than it used to be.

I’m keeping everything crossed that this lasts.