Splurging, bingeing, and giving my self-esteem the finger

Six days til my medication situation is reviewed. It doesn’t sound like much, and I didn’t think I’d be counting down the days like this, but today I’ve realised I’m showing signs that I’m really not okay.

1) Impulse buying, big time. In the past this has always preceded a suicide attempt, and I think one was averted a couple of days ago. Last time round I splashed out on a new laptop, and this afternoon it was a tablet. I really can’t afford this. Without realising it I buy these things to cheer myself up. It works for a few hours, and then the guilt creeps in for massively overspending/I spot what I’ve done and beat myself up about it.

2) Comfort eating. My relationship with food has almost always been unhealthy (there are a LOT of foods I don’t like/was brought up to overeat etc), and I find my depression exaggerates it; either I starve myself with self-harm intentions, or I stuff myself with junk. Recently it’s been the latter of those two, but once I realise what’s going on I can address it: fill the cupboards with healthier foods so if I ‘need’ to binge it isn’t quite so damaging.

3) Not caring about appearance. I’ve never been hugely bothered by appearance; I don’t wear make-up and I don’t make an effort to wear fashionable clothes, but I wash my hair everyday and try to hide the areas of my body I don’t like. When I’m really low I drop the routine, wear the same clothes on consecutive days…I don’t know if anyone around me notices. Hopefully they don’t.

I’ve also been physically odd today (I don’t know how else to put it!); at first I thought my lithium-tremor was back (which made no sense given the lowered dose specifically to avoid that side effect), but then I realised the rest of my body was shaking at times, and at one point I felt close to passing out. I’m hoping it’s just a blip.

So, all in all, I think it’s fair to say I’m not exactly on best form 😦

Shaking hands and strong words

On one of my bus journeys today, I dropped a bag and sent the contents flying down the aisle. That wasn’t the embarrassing part of the encounter; the worst bit was how long it took my uncoordinated hands to pick everything up, in front of the other passengers (who inevitably didn’t understand why it took at least two attempts to actually get my hand to clasp around each object). Thanks for that, lithium!

Later, at Starbucks, I was waiting for my latte (take out), and reached across the person standing next to me to pull out a cup holder from the dispenser. Note to self: don’t reach across other people when it’s going to take you a couple of minutes to perform your task, no matter how simple it was before. Again, thanks lithium.

For the record, it’s not like I blush and obsess about how stupid I must look – to be perfectly honest, my dominant train of thought is always centred around anger at the comparison of how easy these little tasks were before lithium. I’m aware people are looking, but f*** them if they’re judging me. I don’t care to know, since they won’t get it right.

Yeah, I’m in a great mood.

I didn’t achieve anything today. My main goal was to write a CV (the jobs I’ve applied for so far have involved form-filling instead), but I didn’t do it. I want to lose some weight because I’ve gained quite a bit recently, but I have yet to touch my exercise bike. I can only do the aspect of weight loss that requires no (physical) effort: not overeating. I seem to spend a lot of time staring at things.

I’m still feeling pretty miserable, as I outlined yesterday, but the reasons are changing: I’m having bad feelings about Dr T. Maybe I shouldn’t have written about my (ex)treatment-trinity – it’s reminded me that I need to be ready for him to disappear, and the fact that I miss him suggests I’m not ready at all. But that’s okay, give me a couple of weeks, or maybe only a few days, and I will have my head straight on that front.

This is beyond a goal now. This is a statement, a promise to myself. I won’t let these people hurt me again.

Let me get this out of my system

I’m angry.

I’m facing financial issues: I graduated in July, and despite sending off a number of applications, I haven’t landed a job. Maybe I haven’t tried hard enough. Maybe I’m too picky. Maybe I lack experience. Maybe I picked the wrong degree. The upshot is that my money is fast running out.

I’m angry.

My tremor is not diminishing. I lack coordination. Picking up change out of my purse is a public embarrassment. My memory is appalling. I’m a walking zombie. And the guilty party is lithium, the med that is arguably keeping me alive. What kind of trade off is that?

I’m angry.

I miss Dr T, and I don’t want to miss him. That feels dangerously close to needing him, which just can’t happen. Thank you Nurse L for the sudden reminder of why that’s so important.

I’m bored because there’s nothing in my life that interests me, I’m worried about things like finances and jobs, and I don’t even feel like I’m enjoying any positives of the human experience because of depression + lithium. Take away the lithium and the depression just gets worse.

So the anger at the bottom of all of this is anger that this is happening at all – I could, and should, be dead. I’ve tried twice before, and failed. Without lithium zombifying me, I might have even reached #3, which would have worked. Nothingness.

I’m stuck in pretty much every sense, and I hate it.

Rant over.

Check in: Being social/The right meds

I spent today with a friend of mine from uni; he’s a year below me doing the same course, and he wanted some ideas on his dissertation. This was a bit of a break in my anti-social pattern, and I could feel old habits tugging at me after about an hour.

Make excuses and leave. You could be at home on your own. Tell him you need to go. 

I’m pleased to say that I didn’t give in; I stuck with him until he suggested we head off. And it was really nice to catch up with him – I think if I were capable of missing friends, I’d really miss him. He gave me such amazing support when I was facing my final exams, and when I had to take a year out due to my mental health. I owe him a lot.

My tremor is back today, which may be the result of boosting the lithium to 800mg. I REALLY hope it goes away before I see my psychiatrist, because lowering the dose would take me out of the therapeutic range (i.e. why even take it?), and I don’t want to stop and try something else – that list is already far, far too long.

Side effects aside, I think the lithium/fluoxetine combo is really working for me. It eases the low periods – in my worst times I used to physically feel my depression, and often be overwhelmed with negative thoughts and emotions that would push me to impulsively do something stupid. I am really grateful that my meds seem to be blocking that, which is the big reason for wanting to keep lithium on my prescriptions.

That’s it for today. Happy Wednesday folks!

Check in: Job hunting & fun with lithium

Word of the day: ‘busy’. Getting such a positive degree result yesterday motivated me to immediately start job hunting, which is both terrifying and exciting. Both my psychiatrist and my GP agree that I need to find some part time work, at least initially, and worry about full-time careers etc later. For now I need something that pays the bills, and gives me the time I need for therapy/doctors appointments/babysitting.

With my background in biology and psychology I’ve decided I’d enjoy working in a medical setting, so I’ve applied for a couple of administrative jobs at a local hospital. I already feel super-excited, which tells me I’ve identified the right area to work in, but I’m trying to be mindful that I have almost zero relevant experience so it might take a few applications before I’m successful. Fingers crossed! I’m also feeling some low-grade anxiety about interviews/fitting in/learning new systems quickly enough, but the sensible part of my brain is firmly saying ‘One thing at a time‘. If these hospital jobs don’t work out I’ve got enough local babysitting on the calendar that either way I’m covered for rent, so there’s no pressure on that front.

The other news regards lithium – last time I saw my GP he told me 400mg gave me a lithium level of 0.3 (needs to be 0.5-0.8), so he upped my dosage to 600mg. I started taking the new dose, and saw my psychiatrist the next day, presenting with an impressive tremor. 60mg fluoxetine (Prozac) used to make me slightly shaky, but this was a whole other level that left me unable to write/made it hard for me to accurately use my touchscreen phone, so the psychiatrist gave me a prescription for 500mg lithium.

Unfortunately, she gave me a prescription I couldn’t fill. I tried at two pharmacies but they both rejected it, because apparently lithium carbonate doesn’t come in doses other than 200mg or 400mg (= no way to make 500mg), and they said the prescription was too vague anyway. This left me with a bit of a dilemma: stick at 600mg and cope with the tremor, or go back down to 400mg even though it’s not really a therapeutic dose? I went for the 600mg, but I’ve switched it around – I was taking 200mg in the morning and 400mg in the evening, and now I’m taking the full 600mg in the evening. I’ll report back tomorrow on whether or not that works. Ideally I’ll stick with 600mg until I have my next blood test on Monday, and see if we’ve hit the right lithium level.