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.

 

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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.

Ups and downs

Daily life is full of ups and downs at the moment – more downs than ups, but I try to hold on to the good moments like they’re precious treasure.

The day starts with intense nausea. I can’t describe how miserable it is to wake up every morning to a churning stomach and acid in your throat. It dissipates slightly when I shower, so I get out of bed pretty quickly. In another life, feeling so ill would mean not going into work – my daily routine now has to include a pep talk that I can get through this, and that I am well enough to work.

I’m finding it increasingly difficult to get to work – even if I drive myself there, I start panicking the moment I leave the house, and by the time I reach the end of the road I’m having to really urge myself not to give up and go back home. I get to work, and then around 4pm nausea starts to build again at the prospect of the journey home. Driving home used to be okay – something about heading back to safety – but this is no longer holding.

My new therapist said I should contact Occupational Health at work, so I sent off the necessary forms…they rang today and offered me an appointment tomorrow at their building in the centre of town. Great. I had written very clearly on the form that I’m very restricted in terms of travel at the moment, but that seemed to fall on deaf ears so I had to explain again over the phone. They begrudgingly offered me a telephone consultation next week. I’m a bit surprised by the resistance – given the wide nature of problems that could lead someone to contact Oc Health, why aren’t they more accommodating? I can’t be the only person who would struggle to make it to their offices.

So mostly bad days, but some good ones too. Yesterday I had to take my car for it’s MOT, and I’ve been dreading this for weeks – the prospect of driving to the test centre, then hanging around, then driving back – nausea was off the scale. But I coped. The journey was manageable, and in the test centre I managed to stay reasonably calm. I was really, really proud of myself afterwards. And my car passed it’s MOT so that was a bonus!

The day before that I had a meeting at work, and I managed to sit there for the duration, 30 minutes, without having to leave. I haven’t been able to do that for weeks. Another proud moment. I’m trying to hold onto this, use this as confidence that I can bring on repeat performances.

It’s week two of Abilify – I can’t say that I’m noticing any difference, but maybe it’s too soon. To be honest I just want the six week trial to be up so we can move onto the real anti-anxiety meds – Pregabalin for a start – but I understand I have to give this a try.

Abilify on the scene

Yesterday, I came home from a hard day at work to FINALLY find my psychiatrist referral letter waiting for me on the doormat. ‘An appointment has been made for you to see Dr ABC next Thursday’. Fan-bloomin-tastic!

This afternoon I had a surprise phone call at work – my GP calling. She said she’d had an angry phone call from Dr ABC complaining that I shouldn’t have been referred at all yet – apparently there’s more to try before we need his help – so my appointment was cancelled. Ugh. 

The upshot is I’m about to start taking Abilify (aripiprazole). I’m not thrilled at the prospect – I’ve had really bad reactions to antipsychotics in the past, and Abilify isn’t really renowned for helping with anxiety – but I have to give it a go before I can really discard it. Watch this space.

Avalanche

I feel like I’m drowning.

Anxiety is taking over my life to the point that I’m not sure how much of myself is left. I’m sick with nerves from the moment I wake up until the moment I fall asleep, and then I’m physically sick during the day, retching out this nervous energy that I can’t properly shake off.

I had therapy today, and we had to agree to stop doing ‘the deep stuff’ because I just can’t handle it right now. I threw up three times before the session; I was so amped up. Now it’s all about creating a mental safe space, and breathing right. It feels like I’m two years old, but at the same time I can’t deny that my body will not handle anything more.

I am so scared that I’m going to lose my job. I can’t attend meetings anymore, so I’m coming up with excuses to avoid them, but there’s only so long you can do that before people start to notice. I think this meeting thing is in danger of turning into a phobia. It’s so easy to be logical about it, tell myself in advance I’ll be fine, I can sit through it, but in the moment the fear is so strong it destroys my willpower and hijacks my body.

While listening to the radio today I heard a song that kind of sums up how I’m feeling – Avalanche by Bring Me The Horizon. The song was written about ADHD, but it clicks for my current anxiety, and back in the day it would have been true about the depression I had too.

It’s like an avalanche

I feel myself go under

Cos the weight of it’s like hands around my neck.