Another Reality

I’m currently taking classes training me how to be a computer programmer. Basically, they’re just teaching me how to code. Anyway, I told my psychiatrist and she upped my dosage to deal with the added pressure. Well, that made my hands start shaking so I couldn’t do anything that took precision like, holding my phone steady to take pictures, install a water-softener… On top of that, and the main reason I went back and complained, my boyfriend informed me I was waking repeatedly from nightmares which I couldn’t remember. He’s a very light sleeper so this was a big deal to me because that’s really when we see each other the most. I’ll come over after work, have dinner, sleep over, have breakfast together and that’s it but because of the nightmares I wasn’t seeing him much at all. So much has been happening lately with my mom visiting multiple times in a month classes starting and my sister moving in, I haven’t had time to see him on the weekends so I think it was a couple weeks….? We usually see each other once during the week and on weekends so it wasn’t ‘much at all’ to us.

Sorry, I go off into details a lot.

My psychiatrist told me to start only taking half of my Bupropion (Wellbutrin) because one of their side effects was nightmares and maybe hands shaking. She also told me to start taking my Venlafaxine (Effexor) in the morning instead of before bed since that could also be the reason behind the nightmares and my waking up in the middle of the night. If both of those didn’t work, I needed to stop taking the extra 75 mg of the Venlafaxine she had given me and if THAT didn’t work, we would need to change my meds. I hate the idea of changing my meds because that’s what lost me my job, as far as I’m concerned. So I started taking all of my meds in the morning and only half of the Bupropion.

Wow.

Well, the hand shaking stopped… as did me forgetting I was having nightmares… and the ability to fight my anxiety..!

Yeah, I fell so hard… and nobody got it. My aunt’s upset with me because I’m not walking the dogs at night like I’m supposed to and not vacuuming. Hell, I’m barely eating and I’m certainly not leaving my room much..! Jerry, my boyfriend, says “Haha, sheesh..” via text because when someone tells you their meds aren’t working and they’re low that’s how you respond. I was literally in my own little horror of panic and hopelessness. I even starting typing into my phone’s notes app stuff and, I don’t exactly remember it, but I remember it was sheer fear… and panic about what that fear was doing to me… I haven’t read it because I’m a little afraid to see how scary and ‘psychotic’ I sound. Anyway, after that hell of a night (never has that saying fit so perfectly), I stopped taking the extra dosage of Venlafaxine and I settled back to normal. Thank god. Really the worst of it was that one night but the fall and rise took the better part of two weeks of my life. Which is why I am repeating three weeks of my training classes. I couldn’t shower let alone do school work. Thankfully my teacher understood and allowed me to repeat without paying the fine or it counting against me.

Sometimes I really wish I could explain what the suffering is like… that was probably the most upsetting part because I couldn’t ask for help any where. And of course I’m in between therapists, AGAIN, because my insurance changed and she’s not covered. What perfect timing to fall, am I right?

There was one time though I seemed to get through to Jerry. I’ve always been a journal keeper but I’m not nearly as dedicated as I was in school when I had so much… free time(?? I should never be a school mentor… or tutor.. or school anything..).

Anywho.

I had it out the weekend he and I got back together and there were a few entries of my logic behind all of my thoughts and decisions and I let him read. He’s reading it over and we’re commenting about how I could write so much on one topic. Then it was his amazement at what my mind used to be like. I was just sitting there going “yup.. that’s what it was like.. all the time..” and he’s going “It’s insane… but totally logical..!” (I provided evidence to my reasoning), then after a couple seconds he goes “You know I love you, right?” The entries were basically me over-thinking and questioning every word, phrase, and body language movement he was doing at the time. I think that has to be the one time he had an inkling of an understanding what living with a screwed up mind was like… Maybe I should make him read my phone notes…

So that was my… month… how’s yours been?

Drugs and “Normal”

I avoided taking drugs like the plague. At first, my therapist didn’t mention them but after a year of seeing me she suggested them. I was adamant I didn’t want to take them. The idea of needing a pill just to function scared me. I didn’t want to be dependent on something, anything, and certainly not to that degree. She didn’t push and let it go.

Over time, I stopped improving but still wasn’t functioning at a “normal” level. I was starting to reconsider my stance on medication. A lot of TV shows, articles, and movies had been featuring depression and anti-depressants, making them seem not as drastic a step as I originally believed. Finally, it reached a point where I and my second therapist had to discuss changes in my treatment.

I had received an ‘F’ on a history paper. You have to understand, I don’t get ‘F’s on papers. I could write a research paper in three hours (writing and researching at the same time) and receive a high ‘C,’ sometimes ‘B.’ I was great at writing but writing assignments were still extremely stressful, hence avoiding it until it couldn’t be avoided anymore. With this paper, I couldn’t even flip through to see where my teacher had marked. It wasn’t the fact that it was an ‘F’ because I was no stranger to ‘F’s (just on writing assignments), but the instant anxiety that washed over me. It was like I was back in the library, typing frantically, a race against time and panic. Our professor, God’s gift to last-minute writers everywhere, allowed us to resubmit our papers after we edited them if we received a ‘C’ or below. This was a fantastic opportunity and I just sat there, barely looking at the paper on the desk because of the emotional turmoil that instantly overcame me. After describing this to my therapist, we both knew I needed medication.

I spoke with my primary doctor and she prescribed Citalopram (aka Celexa). Yes, your primary care doctor can prescribe you anti-depressants. We started with 5mg, then after a week and a half 10mg. It takes four to six weeks to feel an effect. After a while I realized I didn’t panic as much while watching characters embarrass themselves on TV. We raised it to 20mg and I left to volunteer teach in China. That trip was so disorganized and chaotic (I was not picked up at the airport and, knowing little to no Mandarin, had to use transit to get myself to the hotel and then was ripped off by a fake taxi driver). I’m absolutely certain I wouldn’t have finished the trip without the meds. I was considering heading back to the airport and flying home before I even reached the hotel! The entire month was just chaos, embarrassing moments, nasty hotels when we had been told they would be five stars. Plans changed constantly. It was awful and proof to me the medication was working.

After a year we raised the dosage to 30mg. I was on that dosage and medication for another year and a half before the effects started to fade. By that time, I had graduated college and finally qualified for my work’s health insurance. I found a new therapist closer to where I’d moved and when I mentioned I was on medication she said she required all of her clients who took medication to see a psychiatrist. That’s how I started seeing one and she and I discussed options.

I need to say this before I move on. The questions they ask are stupid. “How do you feel?”, “Do you feel like your depression is under control?”, “Do you feel like your anxiety has subsided?” I have no clue! I mean, I’m better than I am without medication? I had nothing to really compare it to. I had been depressed and anxious for as long as I could remember. I’ve showed signs of depression since I was nine years old and signs of anxiety since I was.. three? We don’t even have an age for that one. I’ve been working with therapists for years to identify triggers which exacerbate my depression and anxiety and I avoid those ’cause that’s what I’m supposed to do. I could never answer these questions. I was basically pulling shit out of my ass with these. Eventually I would just talk and my psychiatrist would be able to distinguish whether or not I was still suffering or I was experiencing completely normal anxiety or sadness. We switched to Escitalopram (aka Lexapro) which is supposed to be Citalopram but reverse? Something like that. Anyway after six weeks we met up again and decided it wasn’t working very well so she gave me Bupropion (Wellbutrin) along with the Escitalopram. After six weeks I still wasn’t ok, so she raised the dosage on my Escitalopram and I plummeted. I scheduled an emergency appointment and switched to Venlafaxine (Effexor, Trevilor), eventually taking 150mg, with 300mg of Bupropion still. Both treat major depression, but Venlafaxine also treats generalized anxiety. So far, this concoction has been good. I can answer the question “Do you feel your anxiety has subsided?” with a definite “yes” now that I know, literally, constantly  worrying my boyfriend doesn’t actually love me (just because he hasn’t texted me for two days when he usually texts everyday even though he just started a new job and he works with someone all the time thus having little time to be on his phone and his job is very time consuming and being unable to stop myself from tearing up, even when saying the ABCs backwards and naming three boy and girl names for each letter of the alphabet)…. is high anxiety. Or abnormal. You may be thinking “well, duh” but that was my normal. That was a normal reaction, an overreaction, no question, but it can be normal for a person to overreact if they’re a dramatic person, right? Everybody agreed I was dramatic. When I suffered a break up I would, as my sister put it “act like it was the end of the world.” Only now, with those constant, unnecessary worries and thoughts gone am I able to question how much of my dramatics was actually depression/anxiety. The depression question? Well… I’m able to get out of bed even though I lost my job and still don’t have a job. I have moments when I sidetrack and watch Netflix or write posts for this blog, but job searching sucks. Especially when your skills are being friendly and learning quickly. So I’m functioning… most days.. so I guess it’s subsided…

I still hate those questions though.