New year, same crap

It’s a sorry state of affairs when someone is nice to you and your brain goes WARNING WARNING DON’T GET ATTACHED. That said, part of me is grateful for that warning, like I’ve just subverted a threat. A friendly woman (who I’ve known a little while) was caring towards me, and it becomes an attack. Stupid brain.

I’ve been reading through some of my old posts here, and current me seems pretty similar to old me so there’s a lot of solidarity high-fiving going on. In particular I’m drawn to that post I wrote when my old care-coordinator finally understood why I was suicidal (‘A strange kind of closure‘) – because I didn’t look forward to anything – and that’s something I said to Dr T yesterday.

Life is just endless cycles of stress. Get anxious about A, go through A, get anxious about B…etc etc. Even holidays make me stressed, so I don’t have any, which probably makes me ill.

I don’t expect to find a job I truly and thoroughly enjoy. Why should I? My one true, lifelong passion, to write science fiction, is over before it began; my creativity died long ago. I’m not interested in relationships.

I’m here because I have duties, to people like my parents, and I’m here because of the meds; the lithium dampens the suicide ideation, and the mirtazapine knocks me out so at least I can be unconscious if I’m not at work. Literally, I wake up, go to work, come home, and take the mirtazapine as soon as it’s socially acceptable for me to do so (I have housemates). I kill any time in-between with Tetris (I may not be cool, but I do have quick reflexes).

Is this a life at all?

An escape hatch at the base of my neck…?

Last night when I opened my pill box and emptied out ‘Friday’, I realised I was a pill short. The 45mg mirtazapine (/Remeron) was missing, and there wasn’t one in either of the Saturday or Sunday boxes. Actually, I haven’t taken it all week. My reaction: hey, maybe that’s why I feel so miserable!

Can you smell the desperation?

It is an interesting accident though. The withdrawals don’t seem too bad, despite the high dose. What’s even more interesting is that I credited mirtazapine for helping me sleep, but I’ve done just as well without it. Maybe that’s because I believed I was taking it. Ugh I hate psychology sometimes.

I had a night out with some old friends, and during the routine of photo-taking and teasing I found myself secretly wanting to go home, and curl up. Don’t get me wrong, I love my friends, but sometimes it’s so hard to go out and try and be the old me that they’re expecting. And yeah I know you shouldn’t have to pretend around friends, but I don’t think I could stand the concerned looks and awkward questions. I want the easy, ‘blander’ life.

Again I find myself really battling against the old destructive urges. There’s just so much hate floating around; self-hate, life-hate. I hate myself even writing that sentence, it just reeks of self-pity.

I told Dr T I don’t want to be in my head anymore, and I think he thought I was joking. I really wasn’t.

Mentally Stable

Newsflash: MQ has graduated from psych land! Or in other words, I’ve finally been discharged from the psychiatric hospital (outpatient).

Mentally Questionable has become a little less ‘Mentally Questionable’, and more stable.

It was weird walking out of there for what was hopefully the last time on Thursday. Unsurprisingly that place is full of memories; the rooms of the day-hospital that opened my eyes to other patients and problems, the clinic where I let them jack me up with ketamine, the wall that moved when my CPN quit, the crisis team…etc etc.

And I don’t need any of it any more.

After two years of experimenting with all sorts of drugs, my awesome psychiatrist found the right combo to keep me moving, and keep me safe. Applause for her, and applause for:

  • 60mg fluoxetine
  • 600mg lithium
  • 45mg mirtazapine
  • 80/160mg propranolol

She suggested I continue taking these for at least the next two years, and then if I’m feeling stable come down very, very slowly, one drug at a time. I was hoping not to be on lithium for that long (I’ve already been on it a year, and I know it can be damaging long-term), but perhaps I’ll review in a year’s time and see how I’m doing.

Now I’m off the psych books, the main sources of change for me have to be therapy, and obviously myself. I’m not sure how I feel about this. I’m certainly not brimming with confidence. But I’ll deal with that later. For now, I’m just going to celebrate a significant step in the right direction 🙂

When the heart wants change, at any cost

I had an appointment with my psychiatrist today up at the psych hospital, and it’s made me realise that I need to have a really good think about meds – about my expectations of them, and expectations of my psychiatrist, and how I can end up working against myself.

Let me rewind a little bit. For a few days now I’ve been stuck in a sad/low-funk, reminiscent of really bad phases I thought I’d left behind. Naturally, it scares me to be back in this position, and I encounter a fresh sense of injustice at having to feel like this, when most people couldn’t even imagine it.

I see my psychiatrist every 2/3 months, so she is really just getting a snapshot of how I’m doing at any given time. When I realised this appointment was coming up, I knew there was a danger here. If I told my psychiatrist how I feel right now, it could undermine the impressively stable period that came before it, and discredit the combo of meds responsible.

Because the truth is, I think that after years of experimenting, we’ve finally found a combination of pills and dosages that works for me; 60mg fluoxetine keeps me functioning, 600mg lithium numbs the suicidal urges, 45mg mirtazapine beats insomnia, and 80mg propranolol takes the edge off anxiety.

But I realised that despite this, I wanted my psychiatrist to add something, or take away something, or change the dose of something. Because I was feeling crap (and regardless of that being short-term so far), I wanted her to DO SOMETHING. Even if it would be a massive mistake.

I didn’t want her to do something because it might make me feel better. I wanted her to do something because it would mean someone acknowledges how horrible and unfair this situation is. That’s the naked truth here; I was prepared to sabotage years of side effects, withdrawals and other crap just to have my psychiatrist say ‘this really doesn’t sound alright; I think we’d better change something’.

I knew all of this when I went into my appointment today, and I still found myself having to be really honest about what the last few days have been like. Thankfully, my psychiatrist didn’t make any changes to my prescription (she said she’s wary of adding anything else to the cocktail I’m already on), and I’m grateful to her for this. I also suspect I’m not the only person to have this problem, because my psychiatrist even said ‘I know that doesn’t sound very satisfactory…’.

I wish I could have been stronger, but I can’t deny that if I’d walked out of the hospital with an altered prescription I’d have been pleased.

Mourning a ghost

I think someone has stolen my brain. Stolen it, or deactivated it somehow. The last couple of days I’ve been close to bursting with a message I need to get out, but my words are gone. I can think of some old words, but they’re exactly that; old.

Not okay. Not okay. Not okay. Not okay.

Empty. Numb. Pointless. Maddening.

In moments like these I can look back to a year or so ago and remember how different things were; if I felt awful, I acted awful. The suffocating anger and despair were so strong that I would attack myself, or worse. And it did achieve something – it felt right. Appropriate. I compare that to now, when I feel crap and do sod all about it…I miss the release. There was a satisfaction to it; self-destruction was a one-finger salute to the world.

This time last week I wrote about how I let myself watch a very triggering movie, even though I knew it was a stupid idea. I wonder if I was trying to re-enter that old state of mind – being suicidal is scary, but when you’re making plans at least you feel like you’re doing something.

Now I’m doing nothing. I take my pills as the doctors intend. I go to work. I come home. I watch TV, and do crafts, and other mind-numbing stuff. I take mirtazapine, and fall asleep. The day starts over. The crappy feeling never goes away. It’s there, everyday, and it doesn’t shift! And it’s not going to shift! At least, not at this rate.

I miss reckless me. She had her faults, but she didn’t stagnate like I do.

Distractions

I’m back in that place where answering ‘how are you?’ is difficult, because I have to decide whether or not to really engage my brain. If I leave myself in ‘cruise control’, where I mindlessly kill time with hobbies, the answer is that I’m fine. If I switch back to manual I sit here hating that cruise control, but also hating all the alternatives, so instead of honestly answering I settle for ‘everything sucks’.

Yesterday brought the first therapy session after a break of about three weeks, and initially I was pleased that I could present myself as being a lot brighter than I was pre-Christmas. Depression really was less prominent, as I had become better at passing the time that would otherwise have festered negative thinking.

But in that session I realised that I couldn’t draw, knit, and video-game forever; I need a proper job to replace the childminding, I need to find somewhere else to live etc…There is a massive question mark hanging over most aspects of my future, and I had a nasty feeling that my recent stability might only exist in my previous (willing) ignorance of this. I knew the full-blown nastiness of depression was waiting in the wings, but I wasn’t quite touching it.

And then last night the missing link hit me: it’s there when I ask myself if I want any of this (‘this’ being life and it’s opportunities etc)…let the broken record play.

I just don’t know if there’s a fix for that. Can you get your drive for life back if you’ve lost it? Meds won’t give it to me; I think my current combo (fluoxetine 60mg/d, lithium 600mg/d, mirtazapine 45mg/d) is the best one we’ve found in two years of trying, but I’m not sure it does a whole lot more than aid the aforementioned cruise-control (+ cure insomnia, albeit with a shed load of intense dreams each night).

I don’t know if therapy really has the answers for me, for two reasons. One is that I have this nasty feeling I’m too…broken/weird/out-of-sync…to be able to change as Dr T expects me to. The second is more logistic; money’s tight, so I can see therapy ending soon for financial reasons.

I’ll try again: if you ask me how I am, I’ll answer ‘I’m generally doing better, because the right combination of meds and hobbies have made it easier for me to function during the day, but ultimately they’re only distracting me from the darkness hiding underneath, which paints these distractions as pointless.’

Ugh I really hate my head sometimes.

Nope. Not happening.

I had an appointment with my psychiatrist today, and it hasn’t resulted in any great change; we’re upping the mirtazapine to 45mg nightly to try and counteract recent struggles with lethargy, but that’s it. And that’s my choice – once again my doc was pushing for ECT, but I held firm on refusing it. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to be wary of the potential cognitive problems ECT can cause, and either way it would be more of an ordeal than the ketamine-infusion therapy was.

So far the holiday blues haven’t hit, and I’m very grateful for this. It has definitely helped being given a hospital appointment on Christmas Eve, suspending the feel of the holiday until a few hours before the 25th. Fingers crossed the current stability holds.

I wish all my readers a very Merry Christmas, and I sincerely hope it can be a happy time for as many of you as possible. It can hurt so much, knowing that you’re seemingly not able to enjoy it like the people around you. Knowing that you’re flat or low on the ‘happiest day of the year’. But also know that you’re not alone in this, in spirit at least. That’s what I’m going to do.

Merry Christmas