Suuuunshine

We had a hint of summer today, but whereas that would probably raise most peoples’ moods, it brought mine down a notch. It was hot, and suddenly everyone seemed to be stripping down to t-shirts and shorts…except I can’t do that. Not without revealing some rather obvious deep red marks on my arm.

There was a time when I would have been really angry at myself over ending up in this situation, but not anymore. I’m not proud of my scars, but I’ll stand by them (ha, like I have a choice). I just hope the scar-reduction cream I have starts to make a difference, except given the size and depth of a couple of the wounds I made I can’t say I’m overly optimistic.

Sadness aside, today hasn’t been too bad. My anxiety levels have gone way down after it occurred to me last night that I could ask for an extension on my dissertation deadline on medical grounds. I don’t know if it would be granted, and either way I’m not sure if it’s a great idea given that it would mean eating into my final exam revision time, but for now I’m just grateful that the idea at least makes me feel a bit better.

I also realised I needed to call the psych hospital to cancel my appointment for this Friday – it was supposed to be a six week review of the trazodone, but since I’ve been taken off it I don’t see the point in a review. To be honest I think my GP should have been the one to contact my psychiatrist on that front, but he’s busy and on leave now so I figured I’d make the call…I only spoke to the secretary, but she didn’t seem very impressed at the change of plan and told me to expect a call back. Hmmm.

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Not a good day

Hey there, rock bottom. I know I haven’t seen you in a while, but don’t worry, I’m on my way…

Today has not gone well for therapy/ist -related reasons, and I’ve really sensibly decided the best way to deal with this is to OD on the old Nytol. I’m writing this having just taken six tablets, and since I haven’t taken any in a few weeks I’m hoping they’ll knock me right out.

Onto the ‘why’. At around noon today I had a session with Dr T, and it was excruciating. When I admitted I hadn’t managed to do any more work on my dissertation since I last saw him, he immediately told me to go and get my stuff, and come and work in his office so he could be on hand to help me through the anxiety/panic this work is provoking. Unfortunately, the idea of doing that provoked it’s own anxieties; I’d be very, very self conscious. And even though Dr T laid out exactly why it would be great to take this opportunity to push through that issue, I couldn’t do it. This is when I start to wonder if I’m broken somehow. 

Anyway, after 50 minutes of pain I left Dr T and killed some time before my GP appointment that afternoon. He was running an hour and a half late today which was irritating, but at the same time I respect that because I know many of my own appointments have run well over the allotted ten minutes. When I was eventually called in I got some good news: the abdominal ultrasound came back clear. It appears the intense pain was probably a tiny gallstone that would have disappeared without a trace in the month I had to wait for the scan. The important thing is ‘there aren’t any more in the queue to come out’, so I don’t need an operation or anything like that. Hurray!

But the good mood was spoiled approximately five seconds later when my GP casually informed me that Dr T had called him. Apparently he was calling to ask what my GP thought about my medication (200mg trazodone nightly), and then my GP had the idea that maybe it’s time to stop the medications altogether for a bit. 

I call ‘bullsh*t’. This does not add up, at all, and it’s making me angry.

1) Why didn’t Dr T tell me about this like he always does? 2) My GP did not have the idea that I should come off medication, Dr T did. I know this because the print out I was given with the scan results had my recent history on it, which says ‘Dr T called to discuss the possibility of giving up medication’. Why did my GP twist that? 3) Why did Dr T need to call in the first place? I can’t help but feel like there’s something dodgy about this since he didn’t tell me. And given the speech about ‘making drama’ by taking medication a couple of weeks ago, I have a horrible feeling he didn’t trust me. 

I don’t know. I can’t really think this through at this moment in time: I have a massive headache which I can’t take painkillers for because I’ve been too nauseous to eat since yesterday. I told my GP about my recent anxiety/panic issues, and he responded by authorizing me to take 1-3 propranolol tablets at a time if needed. He wants me off psych meds altogether now, at least for a couple of months, so he won’t give me anything stronger. 

Oh, and did I mention that my dissertation supervisor suddenly announced today that she’s taking leave (which won’t end until after my dissertation deadline)…?

Enough. Come on sleeping pills, knock me out.

Trying to find the positives

The serious lower back pain continues, and I think the only way for me to get through it is to try and find the positives. That’s how I managed to stay reasonably upbeat during the trapped-gallstone incident – I found three positives:

  1. According to the people around me, I was handling the pain really well. I had a reason to be proud of myself.
  2. My doc told me the gallstone pain was equivalent to the pain of child birth, which is something I had always been a bit scared of. Well, now I have an idea of what it will actually be like pain-wise, and as per positive #1, I have reason to believe I can handle it.
  3. For some people, that gallstone attack would have been awful beyond the pain – it would interfere with a full time job, or child-care responsibilities etc. For me it wasn’t a problem in any other way than just hurting. This sounds weird, and on a logical level I know it isn’t right, but part of me believes in a sense of balance, so me having that attack meant someone else didn’t. And I was probably better positioned to handle this than that person. 

Finding positives is proving a lot harder with the back pain. I think I’m handling the pain reasonably well, but it hurts a lot worse than the gallstone did, and I’ve cried a few times. I’ve done better. So pain-handling isn’t something to be proud of this time round, but there is one positive I can think of – this is motivating me to adopt a healthier lifestyle. The excess weight I’m carrying around didn’t cause this pain, but it can’t be helping. And more exercise would strengthen my muscles and reduce my risk of back pain like this in the future. So it’s time for change: appetite-increasing meds will no longer be acceptable excuses for overeating, and I’m going to get back on that exercise bike.

Attitude changes aside, the pain is genuinely a bit better. I had an emergency appointment with my GP yesterday, and after examining me he said the area of my back that hurts is one that’s really easy to injure (there were lots of fancy biology terms, and a model of a spine and pelvis, but this was a bit beyond me!). The upshot is diclofenac acid and codeine. I’m not sure either of those is doing very much, but I guess every little helps.

Unfortunately I couldn’t get started on the anti-inflammatories straight away as you can’t take them on an empty stomach, and I had to fast for six hours before my ultrasound (investigating my gallbladder). As predicted, that scan sucked. The bed I had to lie on was more like a dentist chair, and the technician had me turn onto my sides a couple of time which was a) PAINFUL and b) difficult anyway on a slim dentist chair when you’re trying not to dislodge the towels and gel. Plus she was pressing hard enough that it hurt, but that’s my fault for being overweight. 

Anyway, that’s done now, and I get the results sometime next week. I’m currently home with my parents which makes life easier as there’s only one set of stairs to navigate. Despite the pain I’m not in a terrible mood, and I’m beginning to wonder if I have the trazodone (Desyrel) to thank for that. We’ll see. Fingers crossed I get better soon. Please please please let me get better soon!!

Check in: Pushing through

I am on fire at the moment, and it feels good. And no, that’s not a self-harm reference – I’m talking about getting work done. Today’s the day I was supposed to go and see Dr T for an extra session (during his week off) if I hadn’t managed to get my head down and really get going with my dissertation. My absolute horror at that idea worked as a kind of unintended incentive to push myself, and three days later I have 4000 words. Whoo!

In other news, I’m not sure what I make of the trazodone (Desyrel). I’m on 200mg nightly at the moment in the hopes it will ease my insomnia, and while it was certainly working to help me sleep solidly instead of waking up all the time, it wasn’t actually helping me get to sleep, which is my most frustrating problem. And yet about 30 mins after taking my dose this evening, my eyelids are incredibly heavy. It’s very strange.

That’s it on the news front, but there’s one more thing any readers on psych meds might be intrigued to read: I spoke to a close friend of mine who’s Dad is a consultant psychiatrist, and despite suffering with depression and suicide ideation, her Dad won’t let her take any psychiatric medications. Apparently he would rather she ‘gets through this herself’, and he wants to protect her health records. Makes you think, doesn’t it?

I was doing so well

I really was; finally I was managing to get some work done. In the space of only a few hours today I had over 2000 words for my dissertation. I was on a high, and suddenly lashed out and ordered a Macbook Air, with various upgrades. None of which I can actually afford, but hey, I was feeling good and wanted to buy something exciting.

But almost as soon as I left the library, I lost it. A bad mood hit me washed over me like torrential rain, and it really hurts. Within an hour I wanted out – unconsciousness, right now. And of course I can’t help looking at my pill box. I’ve taken my standard 200mg dose of trazodone (Desyrel), but if it doesn’t start working relatively quickly I will just take more. I don’t care anymore. I cancelled the Macbook order, and I can’t really understand why on earth I thought buying it was a good idea. Maybe it was a touch of hypomania – I don’t know very much about bipolar traits/symptoms.

I don’t have anything intelligent to say right now, so I’ll sign off. Happy Saturday everyone…

Setting the scene for something risky

I saw my GP again this afternoon, and this appointment was pretty different to last time. Disappointingly so; I was in and out within a couple of minutes with a prescription for a week’s worth of trazodone (Desyrel) at 200mg.

I know I moaned about the appointment on Tuesday freaking me out with how concerned my GP was, and by how strongly he was insisting I drop out of uni. But with a little time for reflection, I’ve realized that actually, as much as it made me uncomfortable, it’s nice that someone (beyond my lovely readers here) recognized the seriousness of my situation well enough to be that concerned. Perhaps some of the people reading this might disagree, but I think things have been a bit dicey for me recently; dicey enough that it’s been scary at times. Someone recognizing that, and responding appropriately, was terrifying, but also grounding. At a subconscious level the voice goes: it’s okay 0sername, I know it feels like you’re losing control, but you’re not fighting this on your own. Your GP knows, and he won’t let your depression carry you past the point of no return.

So imagine my disappointment this afternoon when I didn’t feel there was anywhere near the same level of support. To be fair, it wasn’t literally a case of go in-get prescription-leave. I was asked if I’d thought anymore about alternatives to continuing at uni, and was urged not to self harm anymore. But that was it, and I was unpleasantly surprised when my GP handed me a prescription for a whole week’s worth of trazodone at the higher dose without any discussion on that – on Tuesday he understood my self-risk enough to prescribe me only a couple of day’s worth, and now I have a lot. And no mention of promising not to abuse these meds. I know I shouldn’t have to be bound by a promise to not OD, but that made all the difference last week as some readers may remember. I should have said something, but the disappointment was creeping in at this point, and all I wanted to do was leave.

I’m kind of worried. My depression is a little worse today; it’s back to feeling like a physical illness, or an actual weight you carry around with you. I know only too well where that can lead, and in a sense the scene has been set for some risky behaviour. I don’t mean to tempt fate with that sentence, or build a self-fulfilling prophecy, but I need to be honest. Part of me wants to go to the dustbin right now and bin everything before I can misbehave. But a stronger part of me refuses, and it’s not only because my GP wouldn’t want me to stop taking the correct dose. The darker reason is there too. And that’s what scares me.

When receiving care is like entering into a special form of debt

I had therapy this afternoon, and it’s thrown me. I told Dr T about what’s been happening recently, and his reaction was to firmly tell me to stop taking meds. Stop seeing my GP, the psychiatrists etc. 

His reasoning is that back when I had a psychotic depression (beginning of last year) there was a role for medications, but now my depression is caused by emotional problems, and ‘this medical drama gets in the way; it’s secondary, and takes you away from addressing the real issues here’. He correctly pointed out that all but one of the many meds I’ve been on have been useless or stress-inducing.

I reached this conclusion a while ago myself, and told my GP that maybe it was time for me to go med-free. He said no, on the basis that he’s concerned I’ll deteriorate back into that psychotic depression. Apparently it really scared him. And I didn’t argue any further.

So I don’t really know what to do or say on this. Given how worried and firm my GP was yesterday, I can’t imagine he’d allow me to go off meds right now. I know there’s almost always patient rights about making your own choices, but since we had to discuss potentially having me admitted to a psych ward I can see those choices being taken away. And I don’t actually want to stop taking meds at this point in time – for one I NEED the help to sleep (and finally, finally, a higher dose of trazodone is actually helping on that front, so that gives me a break on the Nytol ODing), but also…I want to do what my GP says. I think I wrote in my post yesterday that I have been overwhelmed by how much he seems to care even beyond dishing out pills, and as much as it scares me, I’m grateful to him. Very grateful. And doing what he says (when I don’t have any real objections myself) feels like a way to start repaying him.

On the theme of repaying kindness, and feeling bad when being the subject of someone’s care, Dr T gave me a dilemma of his own today. He isn’t working next week, so I’m not due to see him for another fortnight, but he said he’s very conscious of the time pressures I’m facing with my dissertation and wants to support me with that. He then said that if I still can’t get my head into my work after today’s session, I should come and see him on Monday morning and he’ll help me through it.

No. No no no no no. There is no way I can take him up on that offer. It’s his week off. I can’t intrude on that. His offer is SO, so generous of him, but it’s generous to the point that I can’t bear it. It’s too kind so I can’t accept it. I don’t know how to repay that kindness. So whatever state my dissertation is in by Monday, I won’t head to his office. 

Taking a step back, isn’t it weird how kindness towards you can be really uncomfortable, because it seems undeserved? And isn’t it weird that acts of genuine kindness feel like taking on a special kind of debt? A debt you can’t easily or obviously repay.