Let’s get physical, physical

For anyone who struggles with depression you know how difficult it can be to break the cycle of darkness. You nap to pass the time and avoid most activities especially the ones that involve leaving the house. The longer you remain in that survival zone the harder it is to break out of it.

I think it’s safe to assume at this point that everyone knows that physical activity promotes positive mental health and decreases symptoms of depression. Despite knowing the facts, breaking that cycle still seems insurmountable. Sometimes we need to accept a little motivational push from those around us.

Tonight I planned to join a new neighbourhood running group. Two of my least favourite things merged into one activity, meeting new people and running. Half an hour before the group was set to start I messaged a friend i know in the group to say I wasn’t going. No made up excuses, I just didn’t want to go. It was cold outside and warm inside, decision made. Fortunately this friend encouraged me to come out despite my lack of motivation. The annoying benefit of joining a group is that you become accountable to others. Often times my own desire to change is simply not enough, I need others to give me a gentle nudge in the right direction. We all have times in our lives when we need the nudge and when we are the nudger. That’s the wonderful thing about humanity isn’t it? We are all connected to help each other when we need it most.

The outcome of the run was completely predictable. I survived it and felt good about myself afterwards. I wish I could bottle that feeling of positive empowerment and spritz it on myself when I need it most. And by spritz I mean bathe in it.

I guess I’ve now committed to this couch to 5k thing and to my new running buddies. I’m going to be one of those healthy people that I see on weekend mornings running in the rain while I shovel pancakes into my mouth and judge them for being better than me.

Accepting that you are enough

When you suffer from depression and anxiety sometimes it feels like pursuing happiness is a fruitless labour. It feels like no matter the effort you put in, sometimes that faceless monster storms into your life and takes over. The road to hell is paved to good intentions. Hell is your bed and you’re stuck in it wishing for sleep to guide you from one day to the next in a blur of nothingness.  You don’t want that nothingness, but it’s the best you can do.

I want to be happy. I want to be productive and accomplish things. I want people to be proud of me and most of all I want to be proud of myself. When that depression monster is pinning you down your hopes and dreams become distant memories. Those distant memories fade into a fog that seems impossible to push through, but push through you must. It’s an exhausting process but pushing your way through is the only way to get out.

Some days I think I can’t make it out of bed let alone get dressed and be functional at work. Those are the days that I have to talk myself through one step at a time. I tell myself that I’ll just shower and see how it goes. From there I tell myself I’ll just get dressed and if at any point it becomes too much I can go back to bed. Next I’ll get myself to work, if I have to leave so be it.  Usually it ends up that step by step, I’ve successfully made it through another day. Did I get home and cook an amazing meal?  Probably not. Did I come home and clean the house? Yeah right. But make it through the day I did and sometimes that is all we can hope for and that is enough.

No one is happy all the time and sometimes the best we can get is simply to survive and that is okay. Rather than focusing on the things I did not accomplish that day, I choose to focus on the things that I did.

Maybe there’s a load of laundry on my bed but at least I washed it. Maybe there’s a pile of dirty dishes on the counter but at least I made a meal. Sometimes we need to allow ourselves permission to accept that we can’t do everything.  Feeling guilty about the things that weren’t accomplished will not lead to feelings of success but understanding and accepting that there are times when whatever minimal tasks we did manage to accomplish is absolutely okay will allow us to feel at peace with ourselves.

Today is survival, tomorrow is fame and fortune. Just kidding, tomorrow is simply better than today and that is enough.

January 30, 2015: Look mom! No anti-depressants

Today was the day. My first day of no anti-depressants at all. Today was not supposed to be the day, it was supposed to be next week. I took my last one yesterday and my doctor gave me another weeks worth which were sitting at the pharmacy waiting for me to pick up. My withdrawal from the last ween down is done and I know more withdrawal from quitting all together is inevitable so I thought, why delay it? Let’s just get this shit over with. So, today is the day. It’s been nine years, three different pill brands, two psychiatric hospital visits, one suicide attempt and countless tears and no it’s over. I’m proud of myself for being able to get off Effexor on my own when most others can’t and I’m proud of making the tough decision to quit them.

I’ve been feeling really well and have seen my mood improve as the dosage of the pills went down. My anxiety has been under control as well which is surprising but pleasing. I’m not under any false pretenses that things will be rosy for me forever after and if I need to, I’ll get help again. Until then I will ride this personal experiment. Did anti-depressants for anxiety cause my depression or did my depression happen coincidentally simultaneously. I’m a fucking scientist now.

I’m thinking of throwing myself an “I’m off anti-depressants” party but that seems like a lot of work. Plus, you know, they’re be people to socialize with.

January 12, 2015: get rid of my cutting knife

Yesterday marked one week since I had my last meltdown and cutting spree. Yesterday was also the day I spent with my mother and talking to the police after she called them to say that I had flushed my six year old daughter down the toilet. She also thought my children had been staying with her for the last two days (they hadn’t). She has schizophrenia and had been quite well until this slight break from reality. And yes, based on her past, this was a slight break. It was a long day but I’m hopeful that an update with her psychiatrist will take care of things quickly.

That was not how I had wanted to spend my Sunday. Less crazy taking care of more crazy. I had wanted to get rid of my knife yesterday, as a one week sane present to myself but it had to wait until today.

My withdrawal symptoms have been tolerable and my anxiety manageable with clonazepam the last two days. I cried in the shower this morning and I won’t be winning any cheerleading awards but I made it in to work today. The cuts on my arms haven’t healed quite enough to be able to wear short sleeves in public yet but I’ll be there soon.

I needed to get rid of my knife. It’s almost identical to the one I used when I was a teenager when I first cut myself. I kept this one in my bedside table. It was always there when I felt I needed it and folded away easily when I needed to hide what I was doing. Last Sunday was a bad night for me and I’m trying my best to never have it happen again.

Here it is:

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I could have given it away of course because there is nothing physically wrong with it, but I wanted to get rid of it in a way that was meaningful to me. I fantasized about throwing it as hard as I could in a lake but then I felt badly of the environmental impact for the poor fish. In the end I decided to make the two blades incapable of cutting ever again. Suck it bitch.

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8 days since last cutting
8 days since last purging
8 days since last alcoholic drink
8 days since last caffeinated drink
6 days since I started to ween off my anti-depressants.

I’m awesome!!! I’m going to keep telling myself that until I believe it and feel it.

January 9, 2015: This is me in withdrawal baby and an ion foot cleanse

Today is day four of my anti-depressant ween down. I saw my doctor yesterday and she told me that Effexor is extremely hard to stop and it usually involves a prescription of Prozac to compensate for the withdrawal symptoms. Yesterday I was feeling better than I had all week and I told her I was doing okay. By the afternoon I was starting to feel a bit strange and knew withdrawal wild times were heading my way.

This morning I woke up feeling anxious which I don’t like but it was manageable. Unfortunately withdrawal had blown up. What I call brain and body twitches apparently has a name “brain-zapping”. It’s as awesome as it sounds. Here are some of the other possible symptoms to look forward to:

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Look, and this site even has pictures! I think I’m the girl in the bottom picture.

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I almost went back to my usual dosage just to make it all stop but I fought the urge. Damn you prescription drugs you don’t own me!! I’ll get there.

This evening I decided to try an ion cleanse foot bath. If you do any research on the subject it’s pretty clear that it’s all bullshit. You soak your feet in a small tub with salt water and an electric current running through it for about half an hour and it’s meant to pull out toxins from your body. The water changes colour and looks rather foul. Here I am at the start.

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A few minutes in I’m told the yellow water is my urinary track being cleaned out. Mmm hmmm.

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The clinician that set me up stayed there the whole time. All 30 minutes. She made conversation and I had to politely discuss what high school I attended, what I do for work and my gallbladder conditions (since apparently my foot water turned green)
Look at this nasty shit!!!!!!

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I think I just paid $35 to talk to a stranger and soak my feet in an old rusty tub.

January 5, 2015: I think I’m going to quit taking anti-depressants

I’ve been on them now for close to eight years I think, I don’t really remember. This year proved a bit tumultuous with a few prescription changes and in the last two years I’ve had two emergency psychiatric hospital visits. To me that is unacceptable given that I only started taking these pills to help with anxiety, not depression. I suppose it’s possible that my depression developed over the years but it is also possible that the medication is in fact the cause. I think I owe it to myself to find out. Lately I have returned to self harm as a way to feel in control of myself again and that is a slippery slope that I want to stop.

I’ve booked a doctors appointment three days from now because I need to ween down properly. I know the withdrawal symptoms from Effexor come fast and hard. My plan to help me cope during the transition is to get a prescription for a PRN such as lorazepam to use only to treat anxiety/panic attacks and to join a new yoga studio close to my home, possibly two sessions/week. I find yoga helps my body and my mind.

I don’t know if my doctor will support it, but in the end she can’t make me continue taking something if I don’t want to.

Getting off the Effexor should alleviate my insomnia as well. As a sleep lover this has been a challenging side effect for me and I look forward to resuming my love affair with slumber. I don’t like that I can’t sleep well without taking sleeping pills. Lack of sleep is also a trigger for my anxiety.

I’ve also decided to significantly reduce my alcohol intake, another anxiety trigger, and instead invest in a nice vaporizer. Also the occasional caffeinated beverage I drink to keep me alert during the day has to go, another anxiety trigger. A Pepsi is a panic attack in a can for me. No wonder it keeps me alert, it turns me into a squirrel.

Wish me luck.

December 14, 2104: watch a documentary and get inspired for some art

Today was a relatively good day. I broke up the chores I had to do throughout the day with things I wanted to do. I found it didn’t take the exhausting emotional tole it usually does when I spend hours at a time completely things. It’s too bad real life doesn’t work that way, I think I’d be much happier. I think it would be frowned upon at work if I asked for a movie break mid-day in exchange for staying later.

One of my afternoon rewards for chore completion was to watch a documentary called “I am” by director Tom Shadyac. The synopsis without ruining it for anyone is about answering the question “what’s wrong with the world today”. I learned a few interesting facts about animal behavior and about the effects the human heart can have on living things surrounding the body. Quite fascinating really. In the end I found the film to be beautiful and inspirational.

I hadn’t felt much like doing any art at all this past week but after seeing the film I was inspired to whip a little something up. Simplistic but I’m rather pleased with it.

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